After movie screenings, I’ll sometimes stand around with the other critics and we discuss what we just saw. There’s usually a debate of some kind. With this movie, we all agreed. It sucked. Director Ava DuVernay (Selma) gave us a message before the movie to remember what it was like to be a child. That made it hilarious when one of the critics said, “I channeled my inner 12-year-old. He hated it, too.”
This is based on the beloved 1962 Newbery Medal winning young adult novel by Madeleine L’Engle. Unfortunately, the filmmaker could only create a trite film that is a monotonous mess, filled with a series of affirmations and moronic feel-good monologues.
Watching it…I hated looking at the little girl’s face. I hated looking at the precocious little boy’s face. Hell, I even hated looking at Chris Pine’s face, and he might be the best looking guy in Hollywood. Yet when he’s telling us about traveling billions of light years, and then it’s never explained how, or why he did it…he merely gives us some goofy line at the end about how he “wanted to shake hands with the universe and instead…I should’ve been holding your hand.”
But back to faces. I hated Oprah’s face with her sparkly lipstick and eyeliner that made me think of RuPaul. I hated Mindy Kaling as Mrs. Who (who I loved on The Office). Her dumb quotes (from people like Ghandi, as well as rappers like Outkast). I hated Reese Witherspoon’s face, and goofy expressions. All three of them seemed out of their element.
I hated the principal’s (Andre Holland) face. He was so tender and sweet in Moonlight, yet in this, he doesn’t seem sympathetic to a girl that had a note on her locker stating “I wish you would’ve disappeared instead of your dad.”
His response? “Maybe you should get over it and realize your dad probably isn’t coming back.”
I probably would’ve hated Zach Galifianakis’ face too, but I feel asleep before he came on screen.
They spent $100 million on this movie, and the special effects were so bad, you wonder what that money went for. Perhaps Oprah’s salary and craft services.
At this point, I should probably get to the plot, instead of just my complaints. Although I’m not sure how to explain it. All this scientific and metaphysical stuff was so vague. Meg Murry (Storm Reid) is a young teen who has a scientist dad (Chris Pine) who disappeared into the universe. He used a form of travel called “tesseract” in which you can step into the cosmos when a wavy thing appears. Every time a character talked about how they were going to “tesseract” I finally leaned into my wife and said, “I’d like to ‘tesseract’ out of this theatre.”
I would’ve left, if I knew the movie was going to waste over two hours of my time.
After being bullied, Meg (Storm Reid) is visited by Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), who is named that so we they can rip off Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s on First” bit. With her adopted younger brother (Deric McCabe), they embark on a journey through various dimensions in search of him. She also has the help of Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), who doesn’t so much help as just tell her she should believe in herself, and be a warrior, and Motivation 101 drivel like that. For some reason, a classmate named Calvin (Levi Miller) goes with her on this journey.
It’s so bizarre how this movie fails on all their attempts at humor. Adults will be watching this, scratching the wrinkles on their foreheads, wondering what all the pretentious New Age garbage was all about. And they’ll be surprised to find their children are equally bored.
There’s something called “The It” which is where evil resides, trying to destroy the universe.
Devore has said she wanted to make this movie diverse, and that’s great, but what she should’ve done was make it good. My wife leaned in and said, “This reminds me of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ except that it sucks.” As I was laughing, she added, “This is the movie that will end any speculation about Oprah running for President.”
I was wondering how Disney could’ve made this. It felt like Lifetime made it. There was no suspense, and it was all over the map (and universe). I wouldn’t even mind the cliches, if they at least did something interesting. I just saw a movie yesterday (Submission) that had cliches, but was good. My favorite movie of last year (Lady Bird) had cliches, but was incredible. Not everything has to be 100% original, but you have to make it your own. Just changing the main protagonist to be a Black girl isn’t enough.
It will easily make my list of worst movies of the year.