Usually when a movie sticks with me, it’s because I really liked it.
I wish I could say that about Disney’s Wrinkle in Time (see official trailer below) but I really didn’t like it.
I mean, the costumes, yes. Interesting. Make-up, meh. Kinda cool I guess? I mean, it seemed like someone got a hold of the eye shadow and used it as lipstick and then used the crafting rhinestones as face art, but I guess in a kid’s sci-fi kind of way, it’s a pass…
It’s just that the movie is so dark and heavy. There’s very little laughing bits about it for what should be a kid-friendly movie.
I’m about to spoil it for you so stop reading if you don’t want to know the end.
The premise is that Meg Murry has a father, Dr. Alexander Murry, who is physicist who studies the whole space/time continuum. They live happily with their mother, Dr. Kate Murry, and adopted genius brother, Charles Wallace, until, one day, Dad disappears. You guessed it, he cracks the mystery of multi-dimensional travel but of course, hadn’t told anyone before he stepped off into another world so he’s been absent for 4 years. 4 years of torture for Meg who has allowed herself to slip into a pattern of self-loathing and bad grades. She’s bullied and has rock-bottom self-confidence.
Her brother, Charles Wallace, seems to have the opposite problem, defending his family to teachers and bolding reaching out to strangers for conversation. He, at some point which is not clear in the movie, summons the three female beings Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which.
Charles Wallace summons Mrs. Whatsit to begin the tesseract journey to find Dr. Murray. Oh, and they’ve also brought along Calvin, a heavy staring boy with a crush on Meg. He really likes her hair.
First stop is a beautiful Avatar-like planet Camazotz, where they also discover the “IT” and the black thing — the source of all evil in the universe, (which I wasn’t clear where separate beings until I read Wikipedia later). Fast forward through creepy experiences, an Oz-like tornado where Meg demonstrates her natural scientific girl-powered knowledge in a successful effort to save her and Calvin, and onto a beach meeting where Charles Wallace weirdly speaks in chant with a dude in an absurd rainbow beach scene suit and handlebar mustache and I’m guessing this is when his crazy switch gets flipped because his eyes turn red. Yep, that’s all it takes: one bite of a sand sandwich, a math chant, and glowey eyes is now the son of Chucky and the movie gets really, really dark.
I was repeatedly checking my watch at this point. When satan’s son’s face was glowing and he was spewing like poltergeist for far too long, I began to seriously question my parenting choices. I wanted to walk out, but I just knew this torture movie was just about over and I thought it would be more confusing to my almost 10 yo if she didn’t see good triumph in the end, so I cautiously waited for a couple more minutes that felt like eternity — but I leaned over to my friend and told her that I was walking out at 8:20 if Charles Wallace didn’t stop acting a fool by then.
He did. Dad was saved. Family reunited. Calvin still likes Meg’s hair. Meg’s no longer bullied. Mom’s not mad that Dad disappeared for 4 years, not even for a second. Presumably now that Dad’s back, Meg’s grades will improve and her life will be perfect again. There’s that happy Disney ending we were looking for!
Yeah, so…. The Cupcake liked the movie. Do I think she understood it? Nope. I know for a fact she didn’t because when we left, she asked what a tesseract was. That’s how they travel through the dimensions – which is kind of the whole premise of the movie, and if she didn’t get that, well, there’s a lot she didn’t grasp about this flick. She says she wasn’t scared, which is good. I guess, I mean, if she’s ever faced with a demonic child of satan, she knows she can just love someone through it to be victorious, right?
Reese Witherspoon probably saves the movie. As Mrs. Whatsit, she does a good job being smerky (smily/perky) Reese with her “innocent” misspeaks which gather a few chuckles. Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) speaks only in notable quotes, primarily from historical figures of which my 10 yo has never heard of (so, again, this was entirely lost on her). Mrs. Which, smh. Oprah… Naturally larger than life. No, I mean LARGER than any other character in the movie – for realz. They make her character physically exponentially larger than the others, I dunno, because Oprah? And I feel like she over acts throughout her every scene. The only time I saw a glimpse of the Oscar-winning Oprah was when she drapes an arm around Meg on the cavern’s stone bridge and begins their comforting walk to the Happy Medium, and then in a flash, it’s gone again. Storm Reid plays a great brooding tweenager. Zach Galifianakis is spot on as the Happy Medium. Chris Pine, I’ll give him props as a cool science Dad. There are kids everywhere with nerd dad’s wishing their dad’s were like him. And Levi Miller who plays Calvin, I predict he’s the next Leo DiCaprio.
So here’s my conclusion. This movie should be PG-13. There’s no sex or violence or bad language but the scientific principles are just above most kids under that age, the presentation of evil, the sadness and heavy topic matter throughout the whole thing, I just don’t think it’s something that’s appropriate for PG audiences at all. It’s not just me. There were parents leaving the theater with screaming kids.
While I was writing this review, I did read the Wikipedia summary of the book which I have not read, and I have to say, it actually sounds really good. Like, I think an audio book of this might be awesome. The movie left out sooooo many of the critical details that could have been essential to audiences unfamiliar with the story, (like me) that it’s a shame that this classic book now will be associated with the many bad movie reviews that I see.
I’ll give the story another chance, but I’m going to give it a lot of breathing room. I want to forget I ever saw the movie for now. In a year or so, the Cupcake and I will get the audiobook and listen to it together, but this one won’t ever queue up on our Netflix.