“Wonder” is an extraordinary film about an extraordinary boy

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

While Wonder may be directed towards children, the enlightening tone and plot makes it a movie all adults should see at least once in their lives. **Wonder** portrays the difficulties of living with a disability and what it’s like to be treated differently for something a person can’t change.

Inspired by R.J Palacio’s novel and directed by Stephen Chbosky, Wonder takes place in upper Manhattan. Jacob Tremblay plays an incredibly sweet and intelligent August “Auggie” Pullman, a boy with congenital facial deformities who goes to middle school for the first time after being home-schooled by his parents. It’s hard not to feel empathy for this character from the beginning, watching him silently endure endless stares and snide comments from peers in school.

The movie opens with Auggie talking about how he looks different from other kids because of the numerous facial surgeries he’s had since he was born. These surgeries help him perform functions such as breathing and seeing, but they make him look very different from other children. He wears an astronaut helmet all the time, and when he takes it off on his first day of school, we can’t help but grit our teeth and hope for the best, even though we know he’s going to face problems.

During Auggie’s trials and tribulations interacting with children in school, there is a healthy amount of perspective from other characters in his life, such as his older sister Via, played by Izabela Vidovic, and his best friend Jack Will, played by Noah Jupe. Similar to Palacio’s novel, the movie jumps from person to person as it progresses. Instead of showing everything from Auggie’s perspective, the movie gives the audience a glimpse into the lives of other characters close to him and connects it back to his experiences. This is something Wonder does very well. Without straying too far from Auggie’s story, the other characters in his life have interesting development and backgrounds. These characters then connect to his character and his journey.

Auggie’s struggle to fit in and be treated the same by others is a direct reflection of how many kids in schools and social settings feel. Not only is this concept explored throughout the movie, but also that the harsh truth is that sometimes people just don’t know how to act with others who look different from them. Wonder doesn’t sugarcoat how people react to Auggie, with reactions of characters ranging from outright disgust to cautious uneasiness. It provides a realistic reflection of how many kids in the world are being ostracized or bullied for something they can’t change.

Wonder is an intense drama that enchants and inspires. The endearing and poignantly written script, the tender moments between Auggie and his family and friends and the beautiful shots that catch every emotion and feeling of each character are what make this movie so spectacular.

While Wonder is mostly a movie geared towards younger audiences, the lessons throughout the movie are just as applicable to adults as well. Ostracizing someone who is different is not exclusive to just kids in school, and people discriminate all the time, whether with race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Wonder portrays this darker aspect of society, but also leaves audiences with a call to action: to stand up for the oppressed and to be kind to those who need it most.

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