Wonder: 2017 Rated PG
Based on R.J Palacio’s award-winning book, Wonder is a heartwarming story about a handicapped boy named Auggie Pullman. His 27 surgeries to repair a genetic facial disease has left him severely scarred.
His mother Isabel (Julie Roberts) has home schooled him since he was 5. His father, Nate, (Owen Wilson) and Auggie’s mother have decided this year, 5th grade, is the year they will acclimate him into regular middle school.
Auggie is a loveable, funny, charming kid that loves Star Wars and science. He just looks different than the other kids at school. “I know I’m not an ordinary 10 year old kid!” Auggie bellows from under his astronaut helmet. He knows that this year will be hard on him and his entire family. He does meet some good friends and encounters a bully named Julian that begins to pick on him every day.
Auggie stays true to himself and begins to win over the other kids with his loyalty, charm, and hilarious demeanor. A fight at a sleep away nature camp solidifies the fire and toughness of Auggie, impressing many of the other kids including some of the other bullies. The kids begin to realize that it is what is inside that counts, and that everybody is different in some capacity.
The year ends with Auggie being recognized by his classmates and school as a true inspiration to everyone. Julian is dissected as a classic bully cliché, being formed by moving from school to school every year. He is the captive on the ship that his rich uncaring parents seem to steer. His actions are met with consequence in a great scene in the principal’s office with both his parents.
The other dynamic in this film is centered around Auggie’s older sister Via. She has been Auggie’s number one fan since the beginning, and has looked out for him since day one. Her long whisper goodbye that only Auggie can hear on his first day, warns of being confident and not letting anyone push him around.
Via feels that she has be neglected with all the concentration from her parents catering to Auggie’s needs. She feels horribly guilty that she even feels this way and hides it deep inside. An interesting perspective is examined through Via’s eyes as a family member of a handicapped child. The mother/daughter relationship between Via and her mom has been badly strained.
Via has her own issues in high school. She has been estranged from her best friend, met a new boyfriend, and decided to sign up for the school play.
Julia Roberts is brilliant with showing the strains of raising a “special” child, catering to the needs of the family, and being a sound board for a teenage daughter the needs her mother. She realizes that she doesn’t have to worry about Auggie as much and begins to focus on Via. She has raised two strong, caring children that both rise to the occasion by the end of the film.
Wonder is a heart-warming, cheer out loud family film that both amuses and tugs on your heartstrings. It loosely looks at the bullying dynamic that plagues many of our kids today. It teaches that everybody has something to contribute, everybody is different, and everybody can be accepting.
This feel good movie will leave you grabbing for your tissues, and believing that you can overcome anything. I give it a solid 3 out of 4 stars.