A Wrinkle in Time, rated PG

Starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Peña, Deric McCabe, Levi Miller

Austin Family Critical Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Austin Family Family-Friendly Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, based on the children’s novel by Madeleine L’Engle, is a film adaptation with no shortage of imagination and heart. In an age where cynicism has even crept into films for young people, that positivity alone makes the movie worth seeing – even if the film as a whole doesn’t completely reach the heights of a new classic.

Several years after her scientist father (Chris Pine) mysteriously goes missing, Meg (Storm Reid) is struggling at school, primarily with bullies and with her low self-esteem. With the help of three otherworldly beings – Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) – Meg is transported to another world to look for her dad, who, as it turns out, is trapped as a result of stumbling upon a scientific discovery.

Meg’s brother Charles (Deric McCabe), who instigates the journey in the first place, and her newfound friend Calvin (Levi Miller) both come along for the ride. Along the way, they encounter beings both good and bad – Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis) teaches Meg, among other things, how to keep her mental and physical balance, while Red (Michael Peña) encourages the trio to join the dark side. While on their journey, evil spirits consume Charles – and Meg, Calvin and eventually her rescued father must make some tough decisions.

As is so often the case with book-to-movie adaptations these days, I’m coming to A Wrinkle in Time without having read the source material, so I’m purely evaluating whether it works as a movie. DuVernay is able to touch on themes of social popularity, loving yourself for who you are and fighting hate with love. It’s hard to disagree with any of the film’s platitudes (and young people will certainly benefit from experiencing a movie that embraces these ideas). But in the end, everything in A Wrinkle in Time just feels a little too broad – I can’t help but wonder if the world established in L’Engle’s book has more specifics about some of the concepts introduced in this film. Overall, A Wrinkle in Time is visually appealing and certainly has its heart in the right place – it just plays things a little too safe.

Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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