My son had a day off on the day A Wrinkle In Time opened, so we took the opportunity to catch the movie on opening day. A Wrinkle In Time is a beloved novel written by Madeleine L’Engle, and while I usually make a point of reading the source material, I didn’t get around to it this time. As I sat in my comfy theater seat marveling at its lush visuals, it occurred to me that this wasn’t a family film, per se. This was a kids’ film in the best of ways.
The recent riches of family films that both adults and kids can enjoy have changed my perception of what I’ve come to expect in a family film. Take Zootopia, for example. It’s a very fun yet nuanced story about race and discrimination, but do kids get the film’s subtext? Maybe some do and some don’t. Hopefully, it’s something they’ll discover as they get older and rewatch the film–and that’s just fine. Many of our best literature and films fall into this category, such as The Little Prince.
That said, sometimes kids need to be told, directly, in no uncertain terms, to find the strength to believe in themselves. To extend compassion and consider the inner strife of everyone in your life, even the ones who torment you. To accept and love your flaws. Kids need to be told these things with a conviction that hits with the force of two-ton semi truck, because we live in a world that sends so many mixed messages. In this regard, director Ava DuVernay has delivered with A Wrinkle In Time.
The heroine of A Wrinkle In Time is Meg, a smart but sullen middle school student. Who isn’t sullen at that age? But Meg has experienced profound loss in her life. Her father, a brilliant and ambitious scientist, mysteriously disappeared four years ago, leaving behind Meg, her brother Charles Wallace and their mother, another brilliant scientist. The tale of his disappearance is well known, giving schoolyard bullies material to torment Meg. The enthusiastic little girl who conducted science experiments alongside her father is long gone—or so she thinks. Bolstered by her precocious younger brother and a sudden friendship extended by a boy named Calvin, Meg steps into he unknown to find her father, lost in inter-dimensional travel.
Meg and her companions travel to places that are both epic and magical, but Meg’s journey is deeply personal. She must cast all doubt aside and believe in herself if she is to succeed in finding her father. Watching Meg’s struggle took me back to being her age, to a time when the fight to preserve your self esteem, love, and compassion felt like an insurmountable battle, yet there were moments of magic as well.
My son wasn’t too enthusiastic about watching A Wrinkle In Time at first, but as soon as the peppy and colorful Mrs. Whatsit appeared on screen, he was sold. Take your kiddos to watch this movie. It’ll fill their (and your) heart with wonder and positive affirmation.