Wonder (2017)

  • Time: 113 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Stephen Chbosky
  • Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson

Storyline:

Based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

2 comments

  • Wonder is my latest review. It is for the most part, a “wonderful” movie. Now granted, Wonder is not quite Academy Award-worthy. However, if you like your dramas syrupy sweet and filled with plenty of cinematic saccharine, then Wonder will give you your fix.

    Wonder is distributed by Lionsgate and is based on a 2015 novel. It’s what I like to call, a manipulative tearjerker. Every scene is displayed for maximum effect as you the viewer, loosen up the weepy ducts and reach for that big box of Kleenex.

    Wonder’s story involves one August “Auggie” Pullman (played by an unrecognizable Jacob Tremblay). “Auggie” was born with a facial deformity and has been home-schooled for most of his young life. After reaching fifth grade, his parental units decide to enroll him in private school so he can experience more human interaction while making new friends.

    Now does all this sound a little familiar? Well it should. Wonder sort of resembles 1985’s Mask (starring Eric Stoltz). In fact, if you look at Wonder from an extent, it almost feels like a combination of Mask and a distant cousin of Forrest Gump (the early years).

    So yeah, Mask is more accomplished than Wonder. It has more heightened performances (from the likes of Stoltz, Cher, and Sam Elliott), stronger production values in terms of scope, and a deeper characterization of its scarred subject (Roy L. “Rocky” Dennis).

    Still, Wonder is highly recommendable. It’s a small, little film with a big, bleeding heart. I liked the unexpectedly good casting of Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as “Auggie’s” sympathetic (and supportive) parents. I also liked the way director Stephen Chbosky includes fantasy elements (hello Chewbacca), separate narratives involving the flick’s adolescent co-stars (“Auggie’s” best friend, his sister, and his sister’s best friend), and an unforced interpretation of bullying. This gives Wonder a level of originality and earnestness not seen in most kid pics.

    Bottom line: Wonder doesn’t always elaborate on what makes “Auggie” tick, or how he became so smart, or how he got those birthing marks on his face. Oh well. This vehicle somehow works anyway and every kid and/or parent should see it. In my brief review of 1982’s E.T., I remarked, “if you don’t elicit an emotional response while viewing this film, you might as well not be human”. Well that same statement applies to Wonder. Rating: 3 stars.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog: http://www.viewsonfilm.com

  • “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” Kindness costs nothing, and yet it seems the most difficult thing for most people to bestow. For someone like ten-year-old Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), kindness is especially important since, whilst he’s like any other kid who likes ice cream and playing computer games, he knows he’s not an ordinary boy.

    Auggie has a rare medical deformity he calls “mandibulofacial dysostosis.” Since his birth, he’s had 27 surgeries – the hospital wristbands are displayed on a cork board – ones to help him breathe, see, hear without a hearing aid, and even look better. Yet not one of those surgeries have helped make him look ordinary. Home-schooled since birth by his mother Isabel (Julia Roberts), Auggie is about to embark on a tumultuous year as he begins school for the first time.

    It’s hard enough for any normal child to withstand the challenges of being the new kid in any school, so one can imagine the amplified difficulty for someone like Auggie, who reluctantly takes off his astronaut’s helmet with the gentle urging of his father Nate (Owen Wilson). As his parents nervously watch him make his way inside Beecher Prep (“Please make them be nice to him,” Isabel prays), Auggie walks past the staring children and imagines himself to be an astronaut being cheered on by well-wishers. It’s a heartbreaking moment that is handled with tact and grace in a film that is not without its moments of obvious emotional manipulation.

    Though the majority of people Auggie encounters default to teasing and outright bullying, there are supportive figures like kindhearted principal Mr. Tushman (Mandy Patinkin) and English teacher Mr. Browne (Daveed Diggs), whose daily precepts underline the film’s overarching themes of goodwill and acceptance. Crucially, there is Jack Will (Noah Jupe), whose friendship with Auggie serves as a boon to the young misfit (the look of relief and gratitude on Isabel’s face when she sees the boys walking side-by-side after school is a highlight and a testament to the lasting and impactful power of Roberts’ radiance).

    Whilst Auggie has his parents and other angels looking out for him, his older sister Via (Izabel Vidovic) has been watching over herself since the death of her grandmother (Sonia Braga) and the cooling of her bond with best friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell). Via loves Auggie, but she also understands that he is the sun and they all orbit around him and that her needs shall always be secondary.

    The film is sensitive to everyone’s plight, an approach which some viewers may find heartening whilst others may deem too neutering. Yet Wonder realises that figures such as school bully Julian (Bryce Gheisar) are capable of remorse and possess mindsets that, like Auggie, are developed by both nature and nurture. Though the film doesn’t shy away from sentimentality, it never feels overly mawkish and the emotions feel well-earned as the filmmakers and performers have done an excellent job in mining audience investment in the characters.

    The entire cast is uniformly wonderful and whilst Tremblay will deservedly receive the majority of the plaudits, mention should be made of Jupe who, following on his superb performance in this year’s Suburbicon, continues to prove himself a young actor to watch.

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