Wonder Movie Review
A crowd-pleasing drama that will bring tears to your eyes if you, unlike me, have tear ducts that function properly (or, unlike me, have malfunctioning emotions that cause you to cry or otherwise embarrass yourself by demonstrating how weak-minded you are), Wonder is an enjoyable little movie about a kid with a face only a mother could love who wins people over with his glowing personality.
Jacob Tremblay, who won your hearts but more importantly tangible awards in Room, stars as Auggie, a kid ashamed to go to middle school not because he was born with facial deformities but because his parents named him Auggie. To make matters worse, his parents are Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts, so he is destined to never be as funny as his father or have as nice of a smile as his mother.
Directed and co-written by Stephen Chbosky, Wonder isn’t nearly as good as his 2012 breakthrough The Perks of Being a Wallflower but it still pretty good. Its story is endearing and easy to watch, even if it isn’t quite as funny nor powerful as it could have been. It’s The Blind Side of 2017, a highly successful and well regarded movie that thrives on its charm but is by no means a masterpiece.
Despite being marketed as a movie about an ugly kid who makes friends and is able to joke about his circumstances, Wonder actually takes a more holistic look at the effects of bullying. Which is good, I guess, if you like movies with morals, or morality at all. The film doesn’t focus exclusively on Auggie, presumably because the character is named Auggie, but instead looks at various family and teen dynamics. Auggie gets all the attention, which means that his parents unknowingly neglect their daughter (Izabela Vidovic), who is dealing with the fact that her BFF Miranda decided to stop being friends with her for no real reason. Her BFF has her own issues, as does one of Auggie’s friends who says some stupid shit like kids tend to say.
Wonder does bite off more than it can chew, however. Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell) the BFF is poorly developed despite, ultimately, turning out to be an interesting character with interesting problems; the negligible amount of time given to her backstory is almost worse than just cutting it out completely. Chbosky’s decision to have the movie jump back in time to explore the story from other characters’ perspectives, presumably a holdover from the book by R.J. Palacio, doesn’t really work, either, at least not to the degree to make the gimmick worthwhile at all.
Wonder isn’t perfect, and it’s not necessarily a movie I’ll need to revisit time and again, but as an accessible and family-friendly examination of bullying and other school-age drama, it’s a worthwhile venture. Just don’t let me catch you crying, you weak, emotion-driven person you.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.