Sometimes you want to fall in love, but the object of your affection, however charming, just isn’t right for you. That’s OK — there’s a lid for every pot. And there will likely be many lids for the warmhearted, bubbling-over pot that is “A Wrinkle in Time.” Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
Sometimes you want to fall in love, but the object of your affection, however charming, just isn’t right for you. That’s OK — as a friend of mine’s mother says, there’s a lid for every pot. And there will likely be many lids for the warmhearted, bubbling-over pot that is “A Wrinkle in Time,” Ava DuVernay’s new adaptation of the beloved 1962 Madeleine L’Engle novel about a young girl named Meg (Storm Reid) who travels into a different dimension to find her missing father. Among those lids, for example: the group of preteen girls I overheard in the bathroom after the screening, talking excitedly about how many times the movie made them cry. I stayed dry-eyed, but I suspect 12-year-old me might not have.
Because despite its famously diverse and star-studded cast, and its brilliant director (show me another filmmaker who can make, in quick succession, three films as different and as accomplished as “Middle of Nowhere,” “Selma” and “The 13th”), “A Wrinkle in Time” is, at heart, a children’s movie, and a Disney movie at that. There’s a certain blandness to the characters, particularly the younger ones, which is true of the book as well. And, like the book, the movie flings us from location to location, not always giving the audience time to catch up, to ponder. As kid-movies go, “A Wrinkle in Time” is pretty soulful, but we’re grading on a different scale; a certain amount of generic adventure seems required of this genre.
That said, the movie offers numerous pleasures for grown-ups; not the least of which is the powerhouse trio of Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon as astral guides Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit. It’s no surprise that lines like “Be a warrior!” are catnip to Winfrey — whose essential and undisguisable Oprah-ness is embraced here — but it’s a kick to see her delivering them through be-glittered lips. (Give this movie an Oscar for makeup, right now.) Kaling, usually a comedic performer, demonstrates a gentle, quiet goodness that’s quite moving, and Witherspoon has some fun as the most scattered of the trio. Their costumes, by Paco Delgado, are over-the-top works of art; their presence as a powerful circle of women both elevates the film and grounds it.
Screenwriters Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”) and Jeff Stockwell (“Bridge to Terabithia”) stick with the general plot of L’Engle’s book, but broaden its world. (Mrs. Who still quotes much Shakespeare, but also namechecks Lin-Manuel Miranda.) Its message is of a young woman’s empowerment, and of how love can save a family — and if the special effects sometimes overwhelm that message (such as a glorious field of flowers that takes flight in a colorful frenzy), it rings through loud and clear by the end. Probably louder for some audience members than others, but it’s always worth hearing.
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★★★“A Wrinkle in Time,” with Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Chris Pine, Michael Pena, Zach Galifianakis. Directed by Ava DuVernay, from a screenplay by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell, based on the novel by Madeleine L’Engle. 115 minutes. Rated PG for thematic elements and some peril. Several theaters.