10 Wonderful Things About "Wonder"
Princess Leia once said, “Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder.” This certainly doesn't apply to August 'Auggie' Pullman. Auggie is humble, full-witted, and though to some he may look a little scruffy, he's most certainly not a Nerf herder. He does, however, love Star Wars. And he's a real life wonder, just like director Stephen Chbosky's "Wonder." Based on the 2012 children's book by R.J. Palacio of the same name, "Wonder" follows Auggie Pullman, a ten year old boy with a genetic disorder which has caused his face to suffer irreconcilable defects.
No, it's not a tragedy; it doesn't require deaths to bring people together or a common enemy to root against. Rather, "Wonder" relies upon the kindness of strangers to find reliability and togetherness in each other. The common enemy, if any, is the misunderstood, and what brings everyone together (or who) is Auggie Pullman, 5th Grader. Told through several different character perspectives, "Wonder" focuses on Auggie's first year at public school and how it affects him, his family, and his peers. It's not, however, a story solely about Auggie. It's one of transformation for all involved, and it's a whole-hearted good one. The moral: kids are mean, yes. but kindness is stronger.
Here are 10 Wonderful Things About "Wonder":
- Jacob Tremblay's Performance: Last seen in the Academy award-winning "Room," Tremblay is a stunning blend of truth and zest. His portrayal of Auggie doesn't make you feel bad for him; rather, it makes you cheer for him and feel bad for anyone who doesn't cheer with you.
- The Pullman Family Dynamic: Alright, this family is cool. Yes, they've got some attention deficit issues, but overall, this is one tight knit fam. Sister Via really is the most understanding human on the planet, and Dad is just plain funny. Don't get me started on Mom— Julia Roberts is a force to be reckoned with. They're the "Brady Bunch" meets "Modern Family."
- Chewie: As a way to grapple with his social anxieties, Star Wars fanatic Auggie frequently envisions Chewbacca in awkward or formidable social occasions. I can relate to this; when I was a kid, I often imagined characters from "Harry Potter" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" to help me navigate through tough school situations. It's a sweet and humorous addition to the film.
- The representation of subtle bullying: Bullying, especially in 2017, is not always outright and easy to accuse. It's nuanced, full of subtleties that the outside ear would most likely not catch. It's so important that "Wonder" recognizes this and has focused on bullying that comes in quieter forms. Need an example? When Julian asks about Darth Sidious in the classroom. To many teachers, this would seem an innocent question, but it's a clear jab at Auggie's facial deformities. Pay attention to how the words you say affect others.
- Jack Will and Auggie's friendship: This one hit a nerve for me. Growing up, I frequently made friends with kids who were considered "weird" or "outsiders." My "normal" friends would in turn try to make me feel bad for hanging out with these "others," similar to how Julian and his friends treat Jack when he chooses to befriend Auggie. Jokes on the "normal" kids though— the "weirdos" are way more fun to hang out with, and way more loyal. However, I've also succumbed to peer pressure like Jack did when talking badly about Auggie, and it's a regret I've held for many years. Luckily for Jack (Noah Jupe), he was able to mend things with Auggie and live happily ever after.
- Via's storyline: Man, oh man. Izabela Vidovic kills the game as the frank and kindhearted Via. Her tale in "Wonder" was equally as special as Auggie's. Navigating high school is hard, and she deals with the loss of a friendship and the blossoming of a new relationship and new hobbies all in the same year. She handles her hurdles with grace, humor, and allows herself to feel pain and confusion. She's a trooper. Also, #TheatreNerdsFTW
- Julian's parents: Now, this is an important topic to cover. Many times, it's the parent situation at home that causes children to become bullies. Julian's spoiled rotten demeanor comes from a world of privilege brought to and paid for by the 'rents. They're nastier than he, and one can only hope that he (and all real kids like him) finds the courage to do better.
- Mom and Dad's reaction to Via having a boyfriend: I wish it could always be that chill. Mom and Dad are happy and accepting of Via's beau, and his differing ethnicity is a non-issue, non-starter, non-subject. They let Via take the reigns here, which I applaud.
- Daveed Diggs: What's cooler than being cool? Daveed Diggs. From Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson in the Tony Award-Winning "Hamilton" to Mr. Browne in "Wonder," Diggs can do no wrong. He plays Auggie's teacher with poise, patience, and intuition; he doesn't stand by when he senses something adrift— teachers, take note.
- Auggie's tears of happiness looking out onto the river: After realizing he has made wonderful friends, who will protect him as he'll protect them, Auggie can only express himself through tears. It's a huge milestone for Auggie, who began the school year with an astronaut helmet so his peers couldn't see his face, to now feeling comfortable enough to express himself fully surrounded by kids he can trust. It's one of the most poignant cinematic moments of 2017, and makes every second of "Wonder" doubly worth it.
Take your kids, bring some tissues, and enjoy the best thoroughly feel-good movie 2017 has to offer.
Directed by STEVEN CHBOSKY
Written by JACK THORNE
Starring JACOB TREMBLAY, JULIA ROBERTS, OWEN WILSON, MANDY PATINKIN, DAVEED DIGGS, IZABELA VIDOVIC
Distributed by LIONSGATE
"Wonder" is now playing everywhere.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit here.