Courtesy of Lionsgate
Looking for the feel good movie of the year? look no further than "Wonder," the much anticipated film adaptation of the beloved New York Times bestseller. The film chronicles the inspiring and incredibly heartwarming tale of Auggie ("Room's" Jack Tremblay), an 11 year old who loves "Star Wars," eating pizza, and playing video games. His life hasn't been without turmoil, Auggie was born with an abnormal genetic disorder, passed down from his parents, and has undergone 27 cosmetic surgeries just so he can live a normal life. Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson turn in loving and sympathetic performances as his parents who finally think he's ready to conquer fifth grade, but we all know kids are cruel.
Director Stephen Chbosky ("The Perks of Being A Wallflower") at first tells the movie in a episodic fashion. Often detailing each scene with a name like "Auggie" or "Via." So it's nice we get to meet everyone who's part of Auggie's life, I just wish the movie kept that structure (it sort of just leaves it by the wayside towards the end).
"Wonder" does come at a time where kids could learn a thing or two about the consequences of bullying. Auggie defiantly has to put up with the constant stares, gleams, and hurtful name bashing accustomed to his disorder. In an effort to help, he pictures himself in his own world to help combat it (Chewbacca does show up from time to time in his flashback sequences.) But Chbosky doesn't let the melodrama seep into the picture to much. It's a tasteful heart tugger, one that likely will elicit a few tears (yes, you can lump me in that category). Roberts and Wilson bring the perfect amount of believability to the situation. Wilson is your typical dad that says things like "if you get pushed, push back." And then when Auggie gets in a fight with seventh graders and wins, he's the kind of dad that secretly high fives his kid, while the mom is lecturing on why fighting is wrong. Good stuff.
From it's message, and devastatingly vulnerable performance by Tremblay, there’s just so much to like in “Wonder,” that it should go down like the warm comfort food it is. Even if some of the material could've been borrowed from Hallmark's movie of the week, "Wonder" gives the audience plenty of reasons to smile. B+