The new fantasy film “A Wrinkle in Time” is based on a beloved (or so I’m told) book by Madeleine L’Engle. I can only hope the book is much better than the movie, because the movie is a mess.
Oh, it’s very pretty to look at. Kudos to whoever did the special effects, costumes and makeup. But those are the only things this sappy, smarmy film has going for it.
Meet the Murry family: father Alex (Chris Pine), mother Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), daughter Meg (Storm Reid) and son Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) (Why do they call him Charles Wallace, instead of just Charles or Charlie or Wallace? Who knows? This is just the first of many unanswered questions you will encounter).
The Murry family are all geniuses. And they love each other very, very much. I don’t know any family living or fictional that loves each other as much as the Murry family. I almost went out into the lobby for an insulin shot during the first 10 minutes of the movie.
But then one day dad disappears. Four years later dad is still gone and Meg is now a mopey teen who gets picked on by her classmates. Charles Wallace still loves her, and she loves Charles Wallace.
Charles Wallace has been hanging out with a trio of mysterious women with supernatural powers — Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling). Where did he meet them? Who knows? When did he meet them? Who knows? How did he meet them? Who knows? Certainly not his mother and sister. Nor anyone in the audience.
The ladies show up in the backyard one day and inform Meg that their father used his mind to transport himself across the universe and they need to go bring him back. At least I think that’s what happened. Meg, Charles Wallace, and neighbor boy Calvin (Levi Miller) soon find themselves whisked away to a colorful, creative landscape.
Everyone’s enjoying a nice frolic when an ominous black cloud appears in the sky, with inky tendrils spiraling out from it. This, it turns out, is “The Black Thing” — aka IT, aka the Personification of Pure Evil.
Oh Lord, seriously?
Yep. The kids need to rescue dad from the evil cloud, or rather Meg does, because she’s a WARRIOR of some sort and the witches can’t help because, well, plot dynamics.
Somewhere around this time my mind checked out and never really checked back in. There’s a lot of talking, some trippy visuals, some heartwarming lecturing, an unsatisfying battle of good vs. evil, and a family reunited for lots of hugging.
I suppose this movie will appeal to young people, but I can’t imagine why. As I mentioned up top, the visuals are the real –and only — draw. The cast is fine but when the most captivating thing about a film is the women’s lipstick, there’s a problem.