Film Review: ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Can’t Smooth Its Bizarre Fabric

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CHICAGO – Although I am an admirer of Oprah Winfrey, it’s unfortunate that the best way to describe “A Wrinkle in Time” – with her role as goddess problem solver – is Worst. Episode. of. Oprah. Ever. The film, based on a novel from 1962, caves into effects over cohesiveness or story. Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

Director Ava DuVernay, with only her second major narrative film, may have bit off way more than she could chew, with a complex web of settings, CGI effects and bizarre uses of it all. The story was secondary and barely there, made worse by the silliness of the characters and the actors portraying them. The main setting is an alternate universe, and the souls that populate it were all misplaced and miscast. Oprah joins two other goddesses, played by Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling (“The Office”). All three didn’t work for separate reasons… Oprah’s persona was too close to the outsized presence of her real life, thus devolving into parody, Witherspoon felt like she had no idea what her character was about, and Kaling played the role as if she was drugged. This all adds up into an unintentional laugh fest, not helped by the presence of Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis and Michael Peña, all woefully miscast. Oh yeah, and the film is kind of dull – even for kids – except for the unpremeditated guffaws.

Dad Murry (Chris Pine) is an astrophysicist, who is closing in on a alternative form of traveling through the universe, and is aided in this effort by his academic wife (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Just as they are adopting another son, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), Dad disappears into an inter-dimensional parallel universe (I hate when that happens). His daughter Meg (Storm Reid) never accepts his fate, and has issues at school four years later.

But Charles Wallace stumbles upon a solution. He sees three goddesses who populate the same inter-dimensional setting as their Dad. Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) is first to appear, followed by the quote-spouting Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling). The two follow the leading goddess-traveler, Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), who appears in gigantic form. She leads the kids into the dimensional travel – along with their buddy Calvin (Levi Miller) – and it is up to Meg to figure out how to get to their father.

“A Wrinkle in Time” opens everywhere on March 9th, in regular, IMAX and 3D screenings. See local listings for IMAX/3D theaters and show times. Featuring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis and Storm Reid. Screenplay adapted by Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell. Directed by Ava DuVernay. Rated “PG

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “A Wrinkle in Time”

The Cast Pines for Chris Pine (center) in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’
Photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “A Wrinkle in Time”

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