“Wonder” stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Noah Jupe, Izabela Vidovic, and Mandy Patinkin. Released on November 17, 2017, the film is about a young boy with a facial disability who struggles to fit in at a new school.
The film is directed by Stephen Chbosky, who also directed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and it is based on the 2012 novel of the same name by R.J. Palacio. Every one of us is different on the outside, but that doesn't mean that we are different on the inside too. This ever-lasting concept was applied to R.J. Palacio’s best-selling novel that depicts a child with a rare medical facial condition. Even though I haven’t read the book, I can totally relate to its subject matter since I have a disability as well, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to check this movie out. Another reason was the cast. I had to wait an entire weekend to see it because all of the showings for “Wonder” had been sold out. Was it worth it?
While parents have the tendency to take their kids to several family films that are harmless and fun, there are also parents who often take them to some live-action family-friendly dramas that teach them about life. This movie is one of the examples of the latter. With Stephen Chbosky in the director’s chair, the film was able to showcase two issues that many schools are dealing with: kids with disabilities and bullying. In this occasion, a boy with Treacher Collins syndrome named August “Auggie” Pullman (Tremblay) has trouble fitting in at a new school because he’s worried about being judged harshly by the other kids. With the help of his parents (played by Roberts and Wilson) and his older sister (Vidovic), he attempts to show everyone that despite his unusual appearance, he’s just like everybody else. Not only that, but it also shows the thoughts and feelings of those around Auggie, including his sister Via and his friend, Jack Will (Jupe). For a movie that is at a family-friendly level, I was honestly surprised by how effective the story is. In terms of the screenplay and Chbosky’s direction, the film not only displays its themes in the most smartest and relatable way possible, but it also told its story in a way that both kids and adults can easily understand without making the little ones feel uncomfortable. The entire cast did a great job with their performances. If you like Julia Roberts in her other films, you won’t be disappointed with her performance in this. As for Owen Wilson, let’s just say that I would like to see him in more movies like this. Jacob Tremblay was a huge delight to watch as Auggie. He has come such a long way since his breakout performance in 2015’s “Room”, and I’m extremely happy that he’s still going strong. There are also a lot of emotional moments that were well handled without succumbing to its sappiness like the films on Lifetime. There are moments that'll make you happy and sad, as well as ones that’ll make you want to come into the screen and slap someone in the face (mostly the kids that are picking on poor Auggie). It doesn’t involve a lot of violence, but it does have plenty of harsh insults that made me want to say “Dude, really?”. True story.
Overall, Stephen Chbosky’s latest directorial effort, “Wonder”, is a wondrous and superbly-acted family drama that’s also smart and surprisingly effective. If its goal was to create an award-winning film about kids with disabilities, it may or may not have a chance to earn a nomination or two. However, if its goal was to inspire people who are different than others and impress fans of the source material, I would say that the filmmakers did their job right. Great performances, a smart screenplay, and relatable messages are the core ingredients that make it not only the most inspirational family film of 2017, but also one of my favorite films of the year. If you like Chbosky’s other film, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you might enjoy this one as well. I would also recommend it to families who are going through the same phase, but wait until it slows down first to avoid the rush. I would also like to take a moment of my time to deliver this message to elementary school teachers and middle school teachers. If you haven’t done so already, please show your students this so they can learn how to treat kids with disabilities the same way we treat ourselves, like ordinary people. Also, if there are any kids with disabilities reading this review right now, let me tell you this. Don’t let other people treat you like dirt just because you’re different than everybody else. Just be yourself and maybe someday, they’ll treat you like a regular person.