The long-delayed big screen adaptation­—a TV version appeared some time ago—of the celebrated series of children’s books A Wrinkle in Time brought to mind a quote from years ago concerning another celebrated literary adaptation. Shortly after the release of the 1980 film The Shining, author Stephen King was asked what he thought of the adaptation of his book. I’ll paraphrase by saying that he basically thought it was akin to a nice, shiny Cadillac with no engine inside.

That analogy could certainly be applied to this film as well. It looks great on the surface but the emotional takeaway that was readily apparent in the books is largely MIA in this adaptation. How slavishly one is devoted to the heart and emotion found in the original books will largely dictate one’s level enjoyment of the picture. It’s basically much of the same thing that the Disney company has been known for, taking a celebrated property and molding it to their sensibilities and formula.

The big surprise is how calculated the whole thing feels in spite of director Ava DuVernay’s honest attempts at crafting a winning film. With the exception of a few throwaway moments sprinkled throughout, there’s hardly an honest moment to be found. It doesn’t help that things come to a screeching halt every so often in order for the marketing department to cram a pop song on the soundtrack for no other reason than to obviously sell an album. When I mention that the film is calculated, this is the sort of thing to which I am referring.

For those not familiar, the story concerns the bullied adolescent Meg Murry (Storm Reid), who not only is struggling with finding her place in her middle school environment but is also dealing with the disappearance of her scientist father (Chris Pine), some four years prior. Meg bears witness on a daily basis to her mother’s heart aching for her missing father. Meg’s younger brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), connects with three celestial figures (Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling) and they offer to help the two siblings find their lost father. Meg and CW, along with Meg’s classmate, Calvin (Levi Miller) embark on a journey that whisks them away into many fantastical worlds on their quest to reconnect with their father and heal their mother’s broken heart.

Wrapped inside the preponderance of CGI special effects, there is a message about learning to appreciate one’s own unique talents and gifts, and for that the film does get bonus points. A Wrinkle in Time may not be the most emotionally engaging film we’ll see this year, but if it does inspire some positive thinking in kids who are attempting to find their way then it will have accomplished a lofty goal. For that reason alone I’m glad the film exists even if it doesn’t quite get the job done for the older and more jaded members of its audience.

A Wrinkle In Time is playing in Hickory and all over this area.

Image: Scene from A Wrinkle in Time

Questions or comments? Write Adam at [email protected].