Meg is a timid, insecure girl living in a world that doesn’t embrace such flaws. At school, she gets ridiculed. At home, she lays awake at night and wonders why she’s not liked.
Even the principal thinks she’s a bit awkward.
“You shut everybody out, and then wonder why they don’t like you,” he tells her.
But Meg knows where her life went wrong. It began four years earlier when her father – a brilliant-but-misunderstood NASA scientist – went missing. Most assume he’s dead, but Meg is holding out hope he’s alive … somewhere. If he could be found, she tells the principal, “the world would make sense again.”
Then one day, otherworldly beings start visiting her home. One is called Mrs. Whatsit, another Mrs. Who and still another Mrs. Which. They tell Meg and her brother, Charles Wallace, that their father – “Mr. Murry” — may be alive but lost in another part of the universe. If Meg, Charles and their friend Calvin will join the search, they just might find him!
Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time (PG) opens in theaters this weekend, approximately 56 years after Madeleine L’Engle’s novel by the same name was released. It stars Storm Reid (12 Years A Slave) as Meg, Oprah Winfrey (The Butler) as Mrs. Which, Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde) as Mrs. Whatsit, and Mindy Kaling (Inside Out) as Mrs. Who.
The book and film get their name from the father’s belief that time and space can be “folded” or “wrinkled,” allowing for space travel through billions of light years in only a few seconds. This is done by something called a “tesseract,” which involves harnessing the power of the mind.
As Meg, Charles and Calvin crisscross the universe and search for Mr. Murry, they soon discover they also must defeat the evil “It” – a dark energy force that can spoil everything that is good.
Here are five things parents should know:
1. God didn’t make the cut. The book had its problems, yes, but was full of Christian references and themes. Yet they were stripped from the film. In their place, we are left with a mixture of science fiction, Eastern mysticism and pantheistic pablum.
2. It’s not that good. It’s heavy on eye candy and short on emotion and a plot. The first third of the movie is passable, but then we’re placed on a galaxy ride that leaves too many questions unanswered: Why is the father lost? Why can’t he get back by himself? Why is it up to the kids to do all of that?
3. It has minimal violence and sensuality. One character hits another character in the face with a basketball. In a scene that might trouble small children, Meg and Calvin are chased through the woods by an evil-looking dark force (it looks like a sand storm); it turns into a monstrous tornado. In the sensuality realm, Meg’s mom and dad hug. We hear the word “naked,” but it’s used in reference to Mrs. Whatsit changing from a human to a flying creature. (We don’t see any flesh.) Calvin and Meg grow to like one another romantically, but they never kiss. (They hug.) A beach scene shows a couple of women in bikinis. A man and woman kiss at the end. The film contains no coarse language.
4. It deals with bullying and adoption. On the anniversary of the disappearance of Meg’s father, her classmates post a note on her locker that reads: “Happy anniversary. … If only you’d disappear, too.” Calvin is adopted.
5. It has a messed-up worldview. A Wrinkle In Time never mentions God or Jesus – a disappointment for those who were hoping for Christian themes. (Buddha, though, gets a nod.) The most we hear are things like “we can’t take any credit for our talents” and the question: “What if we were here for a reason?”
The rest of it is a hodgepodge of Eastern mysticism and pantheism. We’re told that the universe is a mixture of light and dark. Humans are light and the “It” is the darkness that spoils everything. We are to “become one with the universe,” Mrs. Which says.
Scripture teaches something very different: Jesus created the universe, and He is the light. (“The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil,” John 3:19). Yes, we are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8), but that only occurs when we are reflecting Christ in our deeds and thoughts. For children, it’s helpful to consider the moon in such discussions. Is the moon bright? Sometimes, yes. But why? Because it’s reflecting the sun. In a similar way, we are to reflect the true Light.
For those who watch it, though, we learn lessons on courage (Meg, others), standing up for what is right (Calvin, Meg), dealing with grief (Meg), the distinctiveness of each person (something Mrs. Which says), workaholism (Meg’s father) and being yourself (Meg).
Entertainment rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
A Wrinkle In Time is rated PG for thematic elements and some peril.