A Wrinkle in Time
Time for another full disclosure: I’ve been worried about whether A Wrinkle in Time was going to be good.
All the ingredients were right. I’m a sold-out fangirl for director Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13TH). I adore that finally, FINALLY a major fantasy novel adaptation stars people of color. And of course, I always get jazzed about a new book-to-movie adventure!
But there was much to make me nervous. As much as I love Ava, she’d never made a kids movie before. Disney has quite the reputation for throwing money at big, splashy, colorful projects that turn out to be empty and frankly headache-inducing. Not to mention it’s hard to turn a beloved book into a movie that everyone actually thinks is good!
So I got my ticket and tried to measure my expectations.
And you know? A Wrinkle in Time is weird. It’s surprising. Some scenes are big and splashy, and some are shockingly intimate. Right now it’s actually scoring pretty low on review sites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. But screw those guys. I liked it.
From the moment that Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon, Home Again), garbed beautifully in stolen bedsheets, flashed her eyes, proclaimed “Wild nights are my glory!” and ran into the stormy evening, I was sold.
A quick recap for the new kids: A Wrinkle in Time is a kids book written in the 1950’s about a girl named Meg Murray, her family, and the neighbor boy Calvin. It’s a great romp about dimensions colliding in a fight for good and evil. The kids must team up with new supernatural friends to traverse galaxies and rescue Meg’s father, a great scientist, who has been trapped by an evil power. It nearly didn’t get published because it was so odd – and I love that the movie carries that same spirit.
It’s humorous and self-aware at unexpected moments. The brother-sister team played by Storm Reid (12 Years a Slave) as Meg and Deric McCabe (Stephanie) as Charles Wallace are so charming and fresh, but more complex than your average kid characters. The grand, celestial beings called “The Mrs.’s” – played by Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling (Why Not Me?), and Oprah Winfrey (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) aren’t just powerful and majestic. They are quirky, funny, and irreverent (just like they are in the boooooook!).
In fact, the movie goes for interesting, gutsy contradictions. I’m not used to the sight of warriors dressed in avant garde gowns and glittery makeup. I don’t typically find movies where the hero discovers victory in her faults, instead of her strengths. And I certainly don’t often watch kids stories where parents and their children square up so openly and brazenly about their vulnerabilities and hurts.
Truthfully, this movie would never have been created in another era. For the first time, a Black woman stands at the helm of a $100+ million live-action project. And as she always does, Ms. DuVernay “demand[ed] inclusiveness,” according to Witherspoon, leading to diversity in both the cast and the crew.
Today is a day to be excited as movies led by Black women become runaway box-office hits. 2018 is a year to be proud of the slow fade of girl-characters in movies who look to their male companions and ask (wide eyed) “What do we do now?” Not Meg. And not in Ava’s movies.
A Wrinkle in Time does have its weak points, for sure. Some melodrama can definitely be found coming from certain corners. Jennifer Lee (Frozen) and Jeff Stockwell’s (Bridge to Terabithia) script, while strong in parts, sometimes fumbles. And, in the way of adaptations, the movie does sacrifice some important content from the book. But oh, Ava is so loving with her camera. The way she shoots her beloved cast takes the movie a step above what the script alone could have done.
There’s no doubt that the people who made A Wrinkle in Time had a deep tenderness for their project, and for the novel itself. So many lines and homages are straight from the book, and watching it actually gave me the same feeling I got from reading it. The same kind of laughs and squirms, the same magical, empowering goodness.
Take your kid, your buddy, your mom, or even just yourself to see this movie. Because this is one kids movie truly made with enough heart, wonder, and delight to rise above its faults. Just like Meg.