Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, about a young girl named Meg (Storm Reid) who traverses the universe to find her lost dad with the aid of three magical wise-women, is a disjointed mash-up of trippy visuals, glittery makeup, idealistic platitudes, and new-age mysticism couched in pseudoscience jargon. It’s a movie best appreciated with a healthy dose of childlike wonder, or a fist full of psychedelic drugs. In short … it’s like going to Burning Man. For kids!
Here are the most egregious moments:
In outer space, as in Black Rock desert, glitter is by far the most ubiquitous and utilitarian beauty product, and everyone’s outfits are extremely extra.
Mrs. Which (Oprah) pairs architectural gowns with a brow full of gem stones and a bindi:
Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) favors green lipstick and sometimes morphs into a plant creature:
And Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) opts for a bizarre mash-up of garb from different cultures (though she’s smart enough to forgo the feathered headdress.)
I still don’t really understand what Zach Galifianakis was doing in this movie as a guyliner-wearing yoga instructor called “the Happy Medium.” Still, it’s a bummer to know that just as you can’t escape these types of men on earth, you also can’t escape them on a deserted planet in a far-off corner of the universe.
Much as Burning Man slowly turned from a bohemian paradise into a glorified Facebook corporate retreat (as some drunk guy at a party once explained to me for many hours) in A Wrinkle In Time, the unspoiled scenic vistas of space have unfortunately been co-opted by tech bros – in this case, hot science-dad Chris Pine.
All the inspirational mantras:
Much like a rave tent full of people high on molly, A Wrinkle In Time is chock-full of inspirational, feel-good speechifying that doesn’t necessarily make much sense in the cold light of day. “Love is always there, even if you don’t feel it,” says hot-science dad. Oprah, playing herself, doles out cryptic inspirational mantras like “you just have to find the right frequency and have faith in who you are.” Meanwhile, Mindy Kaling’s Mrs. Who speaks only in famous quotes, like a walking caption for the world’s most basic Instagram account. “The wound is the place where the Light enters you – Rumi,” she says. Help!
A gift economy:
When Meg and her gang head off to fight the evil villain on their own, the three missuses provide them not with any practical guidance or tangible weapons, but with three seemingly useless gifts, because space is a gift economy. Someone should have at least given them some vegan burritos for the road.
When Meg and the gang finally find her dad trapped on the evil planet of Camazotz, he’s trapped in what seems to be some seriously wacky Playa architecture. After climbing up an M.C. Escher-esque blueprint staircase visible only via magic glasses, Meg discovers her father imprisoned not behind bars, but in a glowing rave cube that looks straight out of Hotline Bling, or the neon box that Calvin Harris trapped Rihanna in that one time.
Much of this movie has the quality of an acid trip, as our protagonists are transported from one wild environment to another without ever being quite clear how they got here. Some parts are classic bad trip, like the spooky cul-de-sac where Stepford children bounce a ball in unison and the sound hurts everyone’s ears. Others are delightful, like the planet where all the flowers ‘speak in color’ and everyone develops a collective case of synesthesia.
’Tessering,’ in particular, seems like an obvious allegory for tripping: it’s an discombobulating experience if you’re not in a good head space, but if you are, it’s a groovy voyage through a swirling multicolor vortex in another dimension. (As anyone who has ever tripped knows, inner turmoil is a recipe for a bad trip, although Oprah would probably be a good person to have on hand if you did start freaking out).
Now, who’s down for a quick tesser to the deep playa?