I was a bad elementary school student. I spent the majority of the time reading Goosebumps and Little Mr. books, and then The Phantom Tollbooth and Harry Potter. Somewhere around the time I was reading those, my peers all had at least a passing knowledge of A Wrinkle in Time. I knew the title. To this day, I still haven’t read it. Well, after seeing the adaptation, I went and bought a copy of the book. That should give you some idea about my opinion of Ava DuVernay’s film.
Hyper intelligent but shy Meg Murry (Storm Reid) has had it rough the last four years. Her father (Chris Pine), a brilliant scientist, suddenly disappeared, and she misses the man who was a large influence on her. Add to that bully Veronica (Rowan Blanchard), who has made it her life’s mission to make Meg’s life hell, and it’s not difficult to see why her self-esteem is suffering so badly, and why she has such trust issues.
Meg’s mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), also a brilliant scientist, does the best she can, but can’t seem to break through Meg’s new defenses. In fact, the only person that Meg opens up to is her adopted brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), who is precocious and trusting. So trusting, in fact, that one night, he lets a stranger into the house.
Meg and Dr. Murry arrive in the living room to find a stranger in a frilly dress standing there, talking to young Charles Wallace. He insists she isn’t a stranger, and introduces her as Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon). The stranger tells Charles Wallace that she isn’t sure about Meg, and the boy insists she have faith as she wanders away into the night.
While out walking the dog the next day, Meg tells Charles Wallace he must be more careful, and he says people talk to him, not the other way around. As this becomes more evident as various neighbors call out to him, Calvin (Levi Miller), a popular boy from Meg’s school, wanders up to the pair. He claims to have felt called to the spot, and Charles Wallace asserts that he was summoned because he was a diplomat, which they would need. He asks Calvin to join them, and the boy agrees.
Then they walk to an old, abandoned house, which Meg insists they should not enter, but they do, as Charles Wallace introduces them to Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), another stranger who only speaks in quotations. She speaks to the trio for awhile, until she becomes fatigued.
Soon thereafter, they head back to the Murry house, where Calvin stays to dinner. Afterward, in the backyard, Meg and Calvin talk, and are spotted by mean girl Veronica, the Murrys’ next door neighbor, and Meg insists that Calvin come away from where Veronica can see them, because being seen with her could cause social trouble for the boy.
Moments later, the two Mrs. arrive in the yard, along with Charles Wallace, who declares it’s time to go. Where they’re going is told to them by the newly arrived Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), who says they are guardians of the Light, and have discovered a message sent across time and space to Earth, from none other than the missing Dr. Murry. The children agree that they will accompany the Mrs. on the search for him.
What follows is a fun, bizarre trip through time and space, a visit to the Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis), a confrontation with the darkness spreading It (voiced by David Oyelowo), and the meaning of being a warrior for the Light, family, and love, especially love of yourself, faults and all.
There were parts I didn’t understand that I hope are better laid out in the book, but even so, this film is a triumph. Take your children, especially your daughters. These are the kinds of messages kids need today.