REVIEW: ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ is missing emotion, a plot … and God
Meg is a timid, insecure girl living in a world that doesn’t embrace such flaws. At school, she gets ridiculed. At home, she lays awake at night and wonders why she’s not liked.
Even the principal thinks she’s a bit awkward.
“You shut everybody out, and then wonder why they don’t like you,” he tells her.
But Meg knows where her life went wrong. It began four years earlier when her father – a brilliant-but-misunderstood NASA scientist – went missing. Most assume he’s dead, but Meg is holding out hope he’s alive … somewhere. If he could be found, she tells the principal, “the world would make sense again.”
Then one day, otherworldly beings start visiting her home. One is called Mrs. Whatsit, another Mrs. Who and still another Mrs. Which. They tell Meg and her brother, Charles Wallace, that their father – “Mr. Murry” – may be alive but lost in another part of the universe. If Meg, Charles and their friend Calvin will join the search, they just might find him!
Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time (PG) opens in theaters this weekend, approximately 56 years after Madeleine L’Engle’s novel by the same name was released. It stars Storm Reid (12 Years A Slave) as Meg, Oprah Winfrey (The Butler) as Mrs. Which, Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde) as Mrs. Whatsit, and Mindy Kaling (Inside Out) as Mrs. Who.
The book and film get their name from the father’s belief that time and space can be “folded” or “wrinkled,” allowing for space travel through billions of light years in only a few seconds. This is done by something called a “tesseract,” which involves harnessing the power of the mind.
As Meg, Charles and Calvin crisscross the universe and search for Mr. Murry, they soon discover they also must defeat the evil “It” – a dark energy force that can spoil everything that is good.
A Wrinkle In Time is family-friendly in the common use of the phrase, but is it any good? I’m sorry to say it’s not. It’s heavy on eye candy and short on emotion and a plot. The first third of the movie is passable, but then we’re placed on a galaxy ride that leaves too many questions unanswered: Why is the father lost? Why can’t he get back by himself? Why is it up to the kids to do all of that?
Then there’s the worldview. The book had its problems, yes, but was full of Christian references and themes. Yet they were stripped from the film. In their place, we are left with a mixture of science fiction, Eastern mysticism and pantheistic pablum.
Warning: minor spoilers!
Minimal. One character hits another character in the face with a basketball. In a scene that might trouble small children, Meg and Calvin are chased through the woods by an evil-looking dark force (it looks like a sand storm); it turns into a monstrous tornado.
Minimal. Meg’s mom and dad hug. We hear the word “naked,” but it’s used in reference to Mrs. Whatsit changing from a human to a flying creature. (We don’t see any flesh.) Calvin and Meg grow to like one another romantically, but they never kiss. (They hug.) A beach scene shows a couple of women in bikinis. A man and woman kiss at the end.
None. We hear “dang,” “buttocks,” “naked” and “shut up” (twice).
Other Positive Elements
We see Meg’s father and mother express unconditional love for their children. Adoption is shown in a positive light. (Charles is adopted.) Meg refuses to leave her brother when he is in danger. Calvin stands up for Meg and tells her he’s not embarrassed to be seen with her. Meg gains courage to be herself and refuses to change her ways just to fit in with her snobby friends.
Other Stuff You Might Want To Know
Bullying is a major theme; on the anniversary of the disappearance of Meg’s father, her classmates post a note on her locker that reads: “Happy anniversary. … If only you’d disappear, too.” We hear a reference to someone being “billions of years” old.
A Wrinkle In Time gives us lessons on courage (Meg, others), standing up for what is right (Calvin, Meg), dealing with grief (Meg), the distinctiveness of each person (something Mrs. Which says), workaholism (Meg’s father) and being yourself (Meg).
A Wrinkle In Time never mentions God or Jesus – a disappointment for those who were hoping for Christian themes. (Buddha, though, gets a nod.) The most we hear are things like “we can’t take any credit for our talents” and the question: “What if we were here for a reason?”
The rest of it is a hodgepodge of Eastern mysticism and pantheism. We’re told that the universe is a mixture of light and dark. Humans are light and the “It” is the darkness that spoils everything. We are to “become one with the universe,” Mrs. Which says.
Scripture teaches something very different: Jesus created the universe, and He is the light. (“The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil,” John 3:19). Yes, we are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8), but that only occurs when we are reflecting Christ in our deeds and thoughts. For children, it’s helpful to consider the moon in such discussions. Is the moon bright? Sometimes, yes. But why? Because it’s reflecting the sun. In a similar way, we are to reflect the true Light.
- What does the Bible say about darkness and light? Are people dark or light?
- Are we to be “one with the universe”?
- How does grief change people? What is the secret to overcoming grief?
- What does A Wrinkle In Time teach us about being yourself? When is that appropriate and not appropriate?
Entertainment rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.