Director: Stephen Chbosky
Genre(s): Drama, Kids & Family
Runtime: 113 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
Middle school isn’t the easiest time to be alive, and it’s harder for those who stand out in a crowd. Wonder tells the story of Auggie (Jacob Tremblay), a child with a facial deformity (and who is a fan of all things Star Wars and Minecraft) who’s quitting home-schooling to go to junior high. Described by some as the kid-friendly version of The Elephant Man (1980), this film’s proud motto is “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
Wonder is an excellent, moving movie, but even many of the critics who praise it will still admit that it’s a pretty manipulative picture. I don’t really have much of a problem with this, as, in my opinion, films are supposed to shrewdly manipulate the emotions of the audience to some extent. Wonder is a fairly saccharine movie, but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
In addition to its alleged mawkishness, there was an extremely minor controversy over the production not casting an actor that actually had the condition that the main character, Auggie, has (well, at least, according to Wikipedia, there was). I don’t have much to say about this, but I think the results are satisfying enough to just file it under “Things to Keep in Mind for Future Casting Decisions.” Apparently, the make-up that Jacob Tremblay wore for the role took an hour-and-a-half to apply.
The bottom line is that Wonder is a marvelous family drama (with some comedic elements) that desperately wants to tug on your heartstrings. It doesn’t break much new ground, but it doesn’t need to. Keep your eyes open for some Star Wars-related product-placement (character-placement?). Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts show up as Nate and Isabel, respectively, Auggie’s parents.
My rating is 8 outta 10.