Wonder is a lovely hart-warming coming of age film; so don’t let Julia Roberts’ appearance be a reason to not see it. It’s an intricate story that on one hand weaves in and out of growing up, then on the other deals with looking different. It perfectly pulls at the heartstrings and manages to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
The story revolves around Auggie (Jacob Tremblay), who is born with Mandibulofacial Dysostosis or Teacher Collins syndrome. Simply, Auggie has some facial deformities of which surgery has gotten him to the point he’s at now. It’s hard not to stare at first, but as mentioned in the film, you get used to it really quickly. But that’s not to say the horrible people that live in the world make it even harder for him to live with it, kids can be so cruel.
Because of Auggie’s deformity and the cruel world, his parents Isabel (Julie Roberts) and Nate (Own Wilson) decide to home school him until fifth grade when he enters the world and has to fend for himself. Despite the headmaster being possibly one of the most understanding, so much so it’s unrealistic, Auggie has three fellow pupils forced upon him by the principle to show him around. One of which is the bully, Julian (Bryce Gheisar) and one, Jack Will (Noah Jupe) who ends up being Auggie’s best friend but not without some complications along the way.
Based on the bestselling novel, Wonder is broken down into chapters each telling the story of someone in Auggie’s life. Starting with Auggie and his battle living with his deformities in addition to the constant bullying and stares at school. The story also puts focus onto his sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic) and her struggle with always being overshadowed as well as dealing with life as a teenager. It also touches on the story of Julian, which gives an insight into why he is a bully.
What this film manages to do other that tell the wonderful story about the human spirit, how horrible growing up can be and what it’s like as a parent with a child with such differences; is how easily it pulls at the viewers emotions. Not only with Auggie’s struggles but also in the beautiful gestures of kindness from everyone around him. The story makes you think about your relationships with others, how you treat each other and how friendships can be so very important. That aside, imagine you’ve never had any friends and little social interaction other than with your family until your aged 11. Learning an entire set of life skills at that age in addition to looking different, only few in the world will ever know.
Leading the movie is actor Jacob Tremblay as Auggie. This isn’t Tremblay’s first major film having performed by the side of Brie Larson (21 Jump Street, Kong: Skull Island) in the 2015 film Room. With a face covered in prosthetics to give the effect of Mandibulofacial Dysostosis, Tremblay manages to portray some real emotions through his tone and body language, as anything shown on his face would be lost. To see a young actor manage this level of performance is spellbinding and is a clear indicator Tremblay’s career will be a strong one.
Overall Wonder is a wonderful journey of self-discovery, finding a place in the world and looking past trivial things like a deformed face. It’s heartwarming, funny and a challenge not to shed a tear. And while Julie Roberts is in the film, her performance is watchable to the point that her motherly performance is relatable. It’s a film for all ages and one that carries some strong messages, an obvious choice as to why the original text is used in schools.
Review by Jay Cook