What it's about:
Auggie was born with facial differences that, until now, have prevented him from going to normal school. He becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to find their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
What we thought:
When I was in Sub B (Grade 2 as they call it now) I transferred to a new school. I will never forget that first day of school - it was one of my loneliest days ever. Things got better during the year until grade 3 when some older girls started bullying me.
If it was hard for me I can only imagine how much harder it must be for a child who has a disability or in the case of this movie, a facial disorder.
Childhood is supposed to be a carefree time but it can be hard and other kids can be very mean. Some kids eventually grow out of the meanness but others turn into mean adults.
While Wonder may be aimed at kids, the story is for everyone. Children can only be kind if they have positive role models who themselves are kind.
Based on the novel by R.J. Palacio the film centres on Auggie (Jacob Tremblay), a 10-year-old boy who has Treacher Collins syndrome. He is a science whizz and a Star Wars fan who hides behind an astronaut helmet.
After being home-schooled by his mom (Julia Roberts) Auggie is going to school for the first time. While adults may show compassion; the kids at school are another breed. One in particular, the popular boy Julian (Bryce Gheisar), bullies Auggie mercilessly.
But this isn’t just Auggie’s story, it’s divided into different chapters to focus on other characters.
His sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) who feels invisible, his friend Jack Will (Noah Jupe) who is ‘another outsider’, a scholarship kid who buckles to peer pressure and his sister’s best friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell) who is dealing with her parents’ separation and her mother’s alcoholism.
What makes this film a great to watch is the interweaving of all these stories which bring depth to the themes explored like: friendship, family, identity, courage, kindness, peer pressure, loneliness and coming of age.
While there is a lot of tear-inducing moments it is not the sum of this movie. The story is told with such delicacy and there is a perfect balance between the sappy and the tough moments.
The acting in the film is top class.
Jacob Trembly gives a nuanced performance as Auggie. He is smart, witty and funny. He never lets you feel sorry for the character.
Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson (who plays the dad) and Izabela Vidovic round out the superb performances.
Vidovic particularly stands out as you feel for her as she battles to be supportive amidst her feelings of anger and neglect. She gets her moment to shine and it will have you sobbing.
The power of this film lies in its relatability - while we might not all be faced with Auggie’s challenges we can identify on some level with the themes explored in the film.
This is a family must-see as it’s not only a teachable moment for kids, but for adults too. And take some tissues with you, this film will get you deep in your feelings!