Director: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs
3. 5 (Out of 5) Globes
Plot: August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) is a 10-year-old boy suffering from a rare facial deformity that means he looks very different to those in his class. Auggie more than makes up for that with his personality, though. It just takes some kids, especially the crueller ones, longer to see that. At the same time, though, Auggie’s sister Via (Izebela Vidovic) has her own struggles that are often overlooked by their mother (Julia Roberts) and father (Owen Wilson).
Review: Watching “Wonder” the lyrics, “I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does,” from The Smiths’ classic song How Soon Is Now? immediately sprung to mind.
That’s not just because for long portions of the film we see Auggie both struggling against bullies and to adjust to life at school. But because the film also surprisingly spends just as much time examining the lives of his overshadowed sister Via, her friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell), and Auggie’s best friend Jack Will (Noah Jupe), each of whom have their own issues that have made them feel alienated.
Cinematically, though, “Wonder’s” ensemble and multi-stranded approach brought to mind “Love Actually.” For both better and worse, because while the film’s heart of gold shines through throughout, leaving you to feel emotionally drained but upbeat come its conclusion, it also ultimately becomes apparent that “Wonder” is overstuffed with story, and as a result uneven.
That’s always noticeable when you first watch a film, though, and it is likely that “Wonder” will quickly become a cult classic, especially because it is undeniably a feel good film that the entire family can enjoy together. It also helps that its stellar cast make it shine even stronger. Jacob Tremblay carries the weight and resonance of the film in a stirring manner, the supporting cast always sell its on the nose moments that could have easily become cheesy, and Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson combine to immediately create movie parents for the ages.
All the while, though, “Wonder’s” heart, sentiment, and uncynicism makes it hopeful, upbeat, and impossible not to love. So much so that I left the film thinking of another lyric from The Smiths, this time from I Know It’s Over: “It is so easy to laugh, it is so asy to hate. It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” Which is something that we all need to be reminded of sometimes.