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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this version of A Wrinkle in Time is a TV movie from the early 2000s. Like the 2018 movie, it's based on Madeleine L'Engle's classic sci-fi novel. It's a good vs. evil parable, but there are some frightening moments when the kids travel through time and space. There are separations -- the father is missing, the mother is sad, the siblings who need each other become parted for a while (although it ends happily) -- so kids going through an emotional time might want to pass. The giant brain IT is never shown in its entirety, which may disappoint kids who want a more accurate adaptation of the book. There are some moments of bullying: verbal taunting, name-calling on the order of "weird" and "ugly." Overall, while it's a sci-fi story, A Wrinkle in Time also raises timeless coming-of-age issues like trying to fit in, thinking for yourself, and the first stirrings of tween attraction that might be "more than friends."
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What's the story?
In A WRINKLE IN TIME, when astrophysicist Dr. Jack Murry (Chris Potter) disappears without a trace, his children, Meg (Katie Stuart) and Charles Wallace (David Dorfman), and neighbor Calvin O'Keefe (Gregory Smith) take it upon themselves to find him. Guided by Mrs. Whatsit (Alfre Woodard), Mrs. Who (Alison Elliott), and Mrs. Which (Kate Nelligan), the children embark on a cosmic quest before finally reaching the dark planet, Camazotz, where they encounter a society of human beings controlled by an evil force. They must use their collective and personal strengths to find Dr. Murry and save their own lives.
Is it any good?
This film adaptation might come as a disappointment to fans of the book as it rubs the wrong way in several crucial spots. A main issue is that it doesn't do an adequate job of portraying the evil of IT. Instead of being menacing, IT is a campy mass of snake-like tissue, never fully revealed. The Darkness is also never fully explained, and the resolution of the struggle is so quick that if you get up to fetch a tissue, you will miss it entirely. Sadly, the ending just doesn't move or satisfy, and the transformations of the characters, so powerful in the book, remain superficial in this version. Still, you have to admire the guts of whoever tries to squeeze this beloved children's book into two hours. It's gamely performed by the kids, but the adult roles are sadly cartoonish and two-dimensional despite the presence of the marvelous Kate Nelligan and Alfre Woodard.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what being different means and what it means to be true to yourself and those you love rather than be popular. How does Meg embrace her individuality in A Wrinkle in Time?
If you've read the book, how is this adaptation similar? How is it different? Do you think it does a good job of telling the story? Why or why not?
Over half a century since the book was released, A Wrinkle in Time remains popular. Why do you think it has stood the test of time?
- In theaters: May 10, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: November 1, 2004
- Cast: Chris Potter, Gregory Smith, Katie Stuart
- Director: John Kent Harrison
- Studio: Buena Vista
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 138 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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