“Wonder” – PG


By David S. Adams - For The Lima News



The Story

“Why do I have to be so ugly? Why can’t I look like everybody else?” cries Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay). Born with genetic abnormalities requiring 27 operations, 10-year-old Auggie, home-schooled by his mother (Julia Roberts), now attends elementary school. Mocked on the first day by other fifth-graders, Auggie asks, “Is it always going to be like this?” That’s the setup for this feel-good story of how Auggie, with severe facial deformities, survives his first year in school.

How do Auggie and Jack (Noah Jupe) become friends? Can Julian (Bryce Gheisar) learn to be kind? Will “Wonder” make you weepy? I was teary-eyed.

The Actors

Talented young actors lead the cast of “Wonder.” Jacob Tremblay as August (Auggie) Pullman is compelling, touching and a true “wonder” with whom it’s easy to empathize. Noah Jupe is Jack Will, Auggie’s first and, for a time, only friend. Of Auggie, Jack says, “He’s very smart and pretty funny.” Millie Davis is shy Summer, another early friend. Bryce Gheisar plays bully Julian who, with members of his posse, call Auggie a “freak.” Izabela Vidovic is Auggie’s older sister Olivia (Via) who has high-school issues of her own.

Others in the cast include Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Isabel and Nate Pullman, Auggie’s loving and protective parents. Mandy Patinkin is school principal Mr. Tushman (yes, his name is funny); Daveed Diggs plays earnest English teacher Mr. Browne. Via’s best friend forever Miranda and new boyfriend Justin are played by Danielle Rose Russell and Nadji Jeter.

Other Comments

“Wonder” is the best feel-good weepy I’ve seen in a long time. It’s (mostly) Auggie’s story, (mostly) narrated by Auggie, so it’s difficult not to identify with him. “We loved it!” said four audience members with whom I chatted afterward. “Is it a true story?” they asked. When a movie’s a “true story,” we can feel even better about liking it. “Wonder,” however, is based on R.J. Palacio’s novel.

Directed and co-written by Stephen Chbosky (Steven Conrad is co-writer), “Wonder” is a message movie. Characters in the film tell us the message: “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” By school year’s end, everyone in “Wonder” chooses kind; even Julian. Only his parents are unrepentant. Not that it’s an easy year for Auggie. Because it’s tough, we admire him even more. In the film’s final school assembly sequence, all the sentimental stops are pulled out. It’s a weepy, no question.

Rated PG for thematic elements, bullying and mild language, “Wonder” runs 113 minutes. See it. You’ll love it.

Final Words

Feel-good movie, “Wonder,”

Works hard to empathize

With 10-year-old Auggie,

Who’ll bring tears to your eyes.

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By David S. Adams

For The Lima News