When I get out of seeing a really great movie, like WONDER, and I noticed I was the only one in the theater (granted it was a 10 pm showing on weeknight), I start to feel really bad for it, especially when a certain superhero movie is going to kill it at the box office. And I had a more enjoyable time with this movie than I did during that other one I saw just a few hours earlier. It’s a movie meant to tug at your heartstrings, but unlike a lot of duds that tried to do that this past year, this one earns it your lump in your throat and the tears in your eyes. It has a great realistic anti-bullying message, the acting is top notch, and the story went places I didn’t expect it to go. If you are looking for a movie to see other than two superhero films that are out in the theater right now, please go to this and give it a chance. I’ll guarantee you’ll be happy crying by the end credits.
The film, at 1 hour and 50 minutes, swims by at a very brisk pace. The trailer makes it seems like the film is going to be entirely on Auggie Pullman’s point of view, a kid born with Treacher Collins syndrome which is a rare facial deformity, that at once was home schooled by his mother, played by Julia Roberts, is now thrust into middle school life. Having the whole movie being in Auggie’s point of view would have been very generic and the film might not have come together as well. About a third of the way in, the movie switches to several other points of views, such as Auggie’s sister Via, Via’s former best friend Miranda, his best friend Jack Will, and even the bully Julian. While I would’ve loved to see his parents having their own points of view (unfortunately Julia Roberts and especially Owen Wilson are relegated to background characters that only pop up once or twice), I fear that might’ve been too many. The inclusions of all these different points of view was perfect.
The situations feel realistic as well. We don’t get over dramatized actions of bullying that seem like they came straight from the minds of dull Hollywood screenwriters playing everything too over the top and by the book. The characters speak to each other like real people would and because of all this, it develops real audience emotional sympathy, which is hard to do nowadays. Plus, the film is extremely entertaining to the point where I knew that I wanted to watch it again, and soon. Julia Roberts is the best she’s been since August: Osage County, and even though he is barely in it, seeing Owen Wilson in something a little more serious was a nice surprise. All of the kid actors, including the bullies and friends and family members of Auggie were fantastic.
But it is Jacob Trembley playing Auggie that completely steals the show and our hearts. If you don’t know who Jacob Trembley is, he is that exceptional kid that did a hell of a job acting alongside Brie Larson in Room. He was also one of the only decent things about this year’s The Book of Henry as well. This is honestly his best performance thus far and will be a child actor to be reckoned with. Hopefully it transitions him into adulthood just as well. Right away, we sympathize with Auggie, and not just because his face is a tad deformed, but because he has a heart of gold, and just wants to be accepted by people other than his family members. Jacob Trembley brings charm and wit to the role, making Auggie a real person and not just a two dimension, “oh woe is me” type of character that a lot of these Hollywood heart string movies try to do to its audience.
But I loved this movie. Wonder is wonderful. I don’t care about the stupid pun. It’s a movie that made me have a lump in my throat, and I was completely invested from minute one all the way to the end credits. It is a nice PG rating, and honestly anyone can watch it. And should. I think this movie should be played at every school, every year, as a huge anti-bullying message as well as a just be kind in general type of moralistic journey for our younger generation. It’s not some sappy after school special, it’s a film that feels as real as the tears on your cheek. And that is rare in the cinematic world today.