Wonder Review

Never did I think this year would have mul­ti­ple movies that have the word “won­der” in the ti­tle. We al­ready know “Won­der Woman” was ba­si­cally a mas­ter­piece, but the new fam­ily film “Won­der” takes the word to new heights.

Based on the New York Times best­seller, “Won­der” fol­lows the story of Au­gust “Aug­gie” Pull­man (Ja­cob Trem­blay), a young boy born with a fa­cial de­for­mity who has been in and out of hos­pi­tals for years. With the help of his mother, Is­abel (Ju­lia Roberts), and his fa­ther, Nate (Owen Wil­son), he tries to fit in at a new school, Beecher Prep, and to show every­one he’s just an or­di­nary kid and that beauty is not just on the out­side.

Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay in Wonder (2017)

A movie like this could have eas­ily gone the route of be­com­ing an af­ter-school spe­cial. From the trail­ers, it looked like it was go­ing for a feel like “The Blind Side” or “Mask” with Eric Stoltz. When I heard Stephen Ch­bosky was di­rect­ing this pro­ject, it ac­tu­ally made me ex­cited, be­cause I ab­solutely love his adap­ta­tion of “The Perks of Be­ing a Wall­flower.” Af­ter fi­nally check­ing “Won­der” out two weeks af­ter its re­lease, I was hon­estly sur­prised by this heart­warm­ing drama that’s eas­ily a film that can draw many peo­ple to en­joy.

“Won­der” does such a fan­tas­tic job at get­ting the mean­ing­ful mes­sage of not judg­ing peo­ple based on their out­ward looks, but by what’s on the in­side. To this day, there are many kids in schools that are be­ing bul­lied, maybe be­cause of a trait that stands out from the rest. Every­body looks at Aug­gie with ex­pres­sions of ap­pre­hen­sion on their faces, not know­ing the per­son he re­ally is. As you’re watch­ing, you re­ally feel bad for him when­ever some­thing bad is said about him.

Ever since his break­out per­for­mance in “Room,” Trem­blay has been an im­pres­sive ac­tor. Even in ter­ri­ble films like “The Book of Henry,” he’s still ca­pa­ble of be­ing a lov­able child ac­tor that every­one falls for. With Aug­gie, he’s such a lik­able kid that does­n’t want every­body to look at him and see this weird kid with an ab­nor­mal face. He wants to be like every­one else and be happy.

Jacob Tremblay and Noah Jupe in Wonder (2017)

By the way, the makeup work was per­fect. If this type of kid was in my class when I was in fifth grade, you bet I would want to be friends with him. And the kid loves “Star Wars,” so that’s a huge plus right there.

Be­sides Trem­blay, Roberts and Wil­son as his par­ents give the best per­for­mances of their ca­reers. Wil­son es­pe­cially gives one of his best per­for­mances in a long time, and I glad he’s in a great movie. I’d for­got­ten that he’s a good dra­matic ac­tor when he needs to be. And while I’m not the biggest fan of Roberts, for rea­sons I even still don’t know, she was ex­cel­lent, and she re­ally plays the mother role well.

Ch­bosky and co-writ­ers Jack Thorne and Steve Con­rad’s trans­la­tion of R.J. Pala­cio’s book to the screen seemed flaw­less to my eyes, though I must ad­mit I haven’t read the book. The story takes on a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion than you ex­pect. My ex­pec­ta­tion was that the story would fo­cus on Aug­gie, but it also fo­cuses on some of the other char­ac­ters’ per­spec­tives and how their lives change be­cause of Aug­gie. This could’ve been lame, but it ended up be­ing use­ful. For in­stance, we have Aug­gie’s big sis­ter Via (an out­stand­ing per­for­mance by Iz­abela Vi­dovic) with her im­por­tant sto­ry­line, as well as Jack Will (“Sur­buri­con”’s Noah Jupe), Aug­gie’s first real friend. Speak­ing of Via, I love the re­la­tion­ship be­tween her and her brother, see­ing that she cares so much about him.

There are a few mo­ments where I ac­tu­ally got choked up be­cause of how happy I was when cer­tain scenes played out. It’s not that the whole movie is a tear­jerker, but it does end up be­ing emo­tional for peo­ple who need their spir­its lifted up.

My one prob­lem with it is that there was one scene that does­n’t quite fit the tone of the rest of the film. Still, it was over very quickly.

By the end, “Won­der” just cheered me up af­ter a less than suc­cess­ful day. It’s filled with so much joy. Trem­blay does a great job in the lead­ing role, as did the other per­for­mances. It did­n’t feel too cliché, it’s well-writ­ten and it’s very re­lat­able for peo­ple who can very much con­nect our main kid who has this de­for­mity. Does it go out of its way to feel cheesy? Maybe, but that was­n’t a prob­lem to me be­cause of the sat­is­fy­ing sto­ry­telling.

“Won­der” may lean into sen­ti­men­tal­ity, but it still felt spe­cial with its mes­sage as this was one of the most touch­ing and sweet fam­ily films of the year.

Grade: A-

2 thoughts on “Wonder Review

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