Based on Raquel J. Palacio’s New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the incredible story of August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy born with facial defects that required 27 surgeries just to help him live a normal life - but none of them helped him look "normal". And, about to start fifth grade in a world where differences are often regarded as "wrong" or "ugly", it’s no wonder why Auggie prefers to wear his astronaut helmet when in public.
Auggie grew up in a loving family with his caring sister Via (Izabela Vidovic), always-supportive father (Owen Wilson), and selfless mother (Julia Roberts) who dropped finishing her thesis and put her entire life on hold for him. But outside the safety of his home and family, people aren’t as compassionate towards Auggie.
Imagine how you felt on your first day at school and times that by 10, and that’s probably still not even close to how Auggie was feeling when he started at Beecher Middle School, partly because he'd been home-schooled by his mother his entire life up to this point.
Wonder tackles a lot of the typical problems kids face growing up - bullying, peer pressure, making new friends, first love, and many other things – without being cliché. And performance is honest and makes the characters very believable and relatable.
What adds dimensions to this film is that while it centres mainly on Auggie, not everything is about him (as his sister has to remind him sometimes). The story is broken into parts and narrated by other characters to show that everyone, not just Auggie, has their own battle that they’re fighting. As the wise school principal Mr Tushman (Mandy Patinkin) said in the film, “there are almost always more than two sides to every story."
Wonder will bring out a mix of happy and sad tears (there was not a dry eye in sight by the end of the movie), but is kept light-hearted with plenty of good laughs along the way thanks to Wilson’s well-timed dad jokes and the subtle wit in the narration throughout the film.
At first glance, this may seem like just another sappy drama about a kid who has trouble fitting in at his new school, but Wonder is much, much, more than that. There is a lot you can learn from this film, and if there’s one thing you should take away from the story, it’s to not judge a book by its cover.
Edited by Heidi Yeung