Directed by: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Reviewed by: Scott Green
FA Scorecard: A
Most Hollywood movies can be easily sorted into one of three different categories; Escape, Showcase, or Messages. Escape films get you away from the real world. They entertain you and for the most part, they make some money along the way. Usually these appeal to the masses, but they rarely get recognized by the critics. Showcase movies are just that. They are made to showcase someone’s talent and to win awards. These movies are not normally made for general audiences but for the critics during award season. Message films come along to deliver a message or some sort of propaganda in an attempt to challenge your thinking about historical or current events. Very seldom does one movie come along that dabbles in all three of these categories and leaves you wanting more. Wonder is THAT film.
Based on the bestselling novel, Wonder tells the story of a lovely American couple raising two children, Via and Auggie. The Pullman family is an average middle-class family with some above average challenges. Auggie was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare condition that affects the development of bones and tissues in his face, leaving facial deformities.
Because of his appearance, Auggie has never been able to blend in a normal crowd unnoticed. Everywhere he goes, people stare and are frightened. Obviously this leaves him feeling insecure, hurt and lonely. But the time has come in his life to leave the comfort of his home, (and his overprotective parents) face his fears and join the local elementary school. Auggie’s journey through 5th grade is filled with adventure, first-time experiences, and life-long lessons. In fact, Auggie learns and teaches everyone he meets, that you can’t blend in when you’re born to stand out.
Once you see the trailer to this film, you can immediately see where the plot and the challenges are going. It doesn’t take a lot to know that this will be a traditional, touching Hollywood lesson on family, fitting in and bullying in school. Wonder follows all the rules and cliches that one would come to expect from a film of this nature. What else do you expect from a movie about a young boy with deformities who has to face a cruel society that shuns anyone who is different? However, what you might not expect, is how perfectly it pulls this off, nor how much you will be affected by what feels like a cinematically proven formula.
Oscar winner Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson are perfectly cast as Auggie’s loving and supportive parents who sacrifice so much to care for their son. Izabela Vidovic portrays Via, Auggies older sister, who often gets neglected and ignored due to the amount of attention it takes to care for Auggie. As powerful and touching as each performance is by these fine actors, none of them can compare to the amazing performance by Jacob Tremblay, who plays Auggie. Even with the heavy amount of makeup and latex it takes to build Auggie’s realistic facial deformities, his performance and ability to display so many emotions shines through. It will inspire and touch your heart from the opening scene to the roll of the credits. These are performances that deserved critical Oscar attention, but sadly, were overlooked.
Wonder is rated PG for thematic elements including bullying and brief mild profanity. However, there is no sexual or offensive content. That makes this uplifting story the perfect blend of entertainment for the entire family, stunning performances, and a powerful message that we all can use.
Inspiring and touching, heartfelt and emotional, Wonder is a genuine WONDER of a film.