I screened the movie “Wonder,” among a full house of adults and children, at the Regal Cielo Vista Cinema on Wednesday night. Since I did not read the book by R. J. Palacios, I didn’t go in with any expectations. I did hear that it was going to be a tear-jerker but admittedly, forgot to bring tissues. So, if you don’t get anything else out of this review, trust me, bring tissues. The screenplay, written by director, Stephen Chbosky, along with Steven Conrad and Jack Thorne, intertwines funny and heart-wrenching moments throughout the entire 1 hour and 53 minute runtime.
Rated PG, Wonder is the story of a ten-year old boy named, August (“Auggie”) Pullman born with a rare genetic disorder called mandibulofacial dysostosis also known as Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS.) Jacob Tremblay, gives a great performance as Auggie, who despite his distorted face, is a normal, loveable kid. The story is told by multiple viewpoints, opening with Auggie’s point of view. Auggie feels that he is not an ordinary kid. But after watching this movie, you will come to the conclusion that he is correct, he’s not ordinary; he’s extraordinary! Jacob Tremblay is adorable!
Julia Roberts plays his mom, who is torn between being over-protective and allowing Auggie to learn how to function in the real world. Her performance is flawless. Owen Wilson plays his dad, who also worries about Auggie, but he’s more of the “fun” parent – he too is perfectly cast. Izabela Vidovic plays Auggie’s teen-aged sister, Via. She’s had to live in her brother’s shadow because he’s had 27 surgeries in his short life. Izabela does an impeccable job portraying the overlooked child, who has more responsibilities placed on her because her parents are busy tending to her “sick” brother. She says that August is the sun and she, her mom and dad, are the planets that revolve around him. Being raised in a Greek/Italian household and the oldest of two brothers, I can sincerely relate. Sons generally tend to be the “chosen ones” of families. Though she understands why Auggie needs her parents’ attention, Via can’t help but feel neglected.
Auggie has been home-schooled, but his mother wants him to go to regular school and thinks this is a good time since all the kids will be new to the middle school. Auggie is scared. His sister whispers in his ear, to be himself, not to fit in when “you were born to stand out.” A Dr. Seuss quote. As he expected, he is met with ridicule and extreme bullying. But he carries his mother’s advice with him, “If you don’t like where you are, just picture yourself where you want to be;” and “. . . be the bigger person.” The other child actors in this film, Millie Davis, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Elle McKinnon, and Danielle Rose Russell are also fantastic – you’ll have flash-backs from middle school – or junior high if you’re from my generation!
There are so many important life lessons to be learned from this movie by adults and children alike, lessons about friendship, love, compassion, acceptance, courage, and why society should adopt a universal, zero tolerance for bullying. The principal, Mr. Tushman, played by Mandy Patinkin, makes a profound statement to the parents of one of the bullies. I think it sums up the theme perfectly. He said, “if we can’t change the way we look, maybe we can change the way we see.”
As we were leaving the theater, a parent asked her child which was better, the movie or the book. The kid’s reply was, “I liked the movie better because I didn’t have to read it! Then she said, “plus, the movie was a lot more touching than the book.” It was very touching. I highly recommend this movie as a perfect family outing during Thanksgiving break. Please let me know what you think of my review and come back and tell me what you thought of the movie. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks – BMT