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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

A Wrinkle in Time | Storm Reid, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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A Wrinkle in Time | Storm Reid, Deric McCabe, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Pena, Levi Miller | Review

Based on the 1962 children’s novel of the same name from author Madeleine L’Engle, Director Ava DuVernay’s (Selma) adaptation looks splendid and fanciful, with all of the colorful eye candy effects you’d expect from a $100,000,000-plus budget. DuVernay is the first female African American director to helm such a pay load.

All of that is impressive, ground-breaking stuff.  Too bad the movie isn’t. What it is, unfortunately, is an awkwardly paced, uneven, sometimes mawkish version of L’Engle’s classic.

The quest for a missing dad throws three children through time and space, with the aid of three celestial beings named Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey, complete with metallic and gemstone eyebrows).

Meg Murry (Storm Reid) is the daughter of two accomplished astrophysicists, Drs. Alex and Kate Murry (Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) is Meg’s adopted genius brother and Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller) is her popular classmate and friend. Dr. Alex Murry has been missing for the last four years, and an anxious and anguished Meg gets teased about it at school.

The three Mrs. Ws explain to Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace that tesseracts do indeed exist, as Meg’s parents had been trying to prove. They are an actual kind of “wrinkle” in time, allowing for all sorts of physics-bending, space-hurtling and dimensional expansion. Now they will use these tesseracts to transport everyone to a series of planets to search for Meg’s father – held captive by what looks like a giant cancer cell called the IT. This is the nucleus of all that is evil, mean, hurtful, greedy and envious.  It likes to spread and Earth is in its path.

Fan purists of the beloved story will notice that certain liberties have been taken.  Gone are the centaurs of Uriel. The Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis) has lost an X chromosome (he’s male). Charles Wallace is adopted. There are no Murry twins and no Aunt Beast. The three gifts to Meg have changed substantially.

There IS still a Red Man (Michael Pena) who lures Charles Wallace away from Meg and Calvin for nefarious purposes, causing a mini-quest for his safe return in addition to Meg’s dad. The whole adventure is like searching through one big galactic lost and found department.

With multiple sappy, sentimental moments and swelling music for effect (just not in the right places) A Wrinkle in Time makes good use of its CGI budget, but not its dialogue, editing, or pacing. It’s an effort I call a swing and a miss, which is most unfortunate because all of the elements were available to make this a truly remarkable, innovative production. Something is lacking in the way the characters interact with each other and reach the viewer.  We are much less engaged than we should be and that is unacceptable in any film, but nearly sacrilegious here.

Of the three “tesser-actresses” Winfrey’s presence is the strongest and wisest.  Storm Reid’s beleaguered Meg tends to overact in some scenes and her character’s perpetual awkwardness and pessimism gets tedious. Deric McCabe is a precocious little firebrand, while Michael Pena is absolutely wasted in his tiny role, though he does “come apart” nicely. No spoilers.

With a running time of 115 minutes, I wish I could tell you that A Wrinkle in Time unfolded nicely, and that everything got ironed out in the end. The film needs some “good press” (ing) which is not likely to happen.

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