Film Review: ‘Wonder’ inspires viewers to take off their helmets and open their eyes

Lucy Dustman, Staff Writer

“You can’t blend in if you were meant to stand out.”

Via Pullman speaks these encouraging words to her younger brother, Auggie, just as he begins his first day in fifth grade in the movie “Wonder,” directed by Stephen Chbosky. Auggie is not like the other kids, since he has 27 surgeries over his lifetime. From the day he was born, these surgeries have helped him see, hear, and taste, but none of them have made him look like other kids. On Auggie’s first day of school, he is frightened as he knows that people will be afraid to look at or even touch him.

School is difficult for Auggie, but luckily, his family members help him make it through each day. His heroic mom (played by Julia Roberts), along with his father (Owen Wilson), work together in a normal, mother-father relationship to bring light to Auggie’s days. In addition to his mom and dad, his sister (played by Izabela Vidovic) supports Auggie even though she is struggling on her own to fit into a new school.

When Auggie first pulls off the astronaut helmet he wears to cover himself from judgmental people, he reveals his face. It is detailed with makeup to emphasize the many scars from his previous surgeries, bringing to light the seriousness of Auggie’s situation. Yet, the makeup is not the only aspect of the film that made it seem so realistic. Jacob Tremblay, cast as Auggie, does an excellent job conveying the life that children like Auggie must face in the real world by putting himself into the character’s shoes and representing each emotion in a realistic and un-pressured way.

The level of maturity that all of the characters express when acting is very high compared to other movies with heavy subjects. Every actor is able to make the best out of the character they play and show what conflicts they face in the film, but also express the hope that they have to turn a problem into something better. For example, Vidovic expresses a realistic view on Auggie’s conflict, so that she is able to support him when he is upset. This and her own conflict in school adds to the plot to make it even sadder, while at the same time hopeful for people in the film and others with similar conflicts in real life.

“Wonder” shares a story like no other film has had the courage to do. The level of excellence at which it shares the struggles of its young character is amazing, especially since it was adapted from the best-selling novel written by R. J. Palacio. When considering this very complex and important topic, the film adds excess padding to emphasize or push the audience to feel sad and happy for its characters, when the story already has the power to do this alone. For example, without any foreshadowing or clues, the families dog’s immediate death is definitely an aspect of the movie that is distracting from the main idea.

Ultimately, nothing takes away from the powerful message that is conveyed by all actors in the movie. The film crew does an amazing job with the cinematography, emphasizing how Auggie feels when going to school. Many times, the camera is brought to different levels to see Auggie’s perspective when he walks down the school hallway or through the courtyard. At this level, the audience can feel the students spreading themselves away from Auggie or looking at him with frightened faces. This feature brings the film to life, and represents the sad emotions that Auggie feels when he is turned away from the opportunities that attending school provides for all students, primarily making new friends.

Auggie’s situation is a hard subject to tackle, and many people are afraid to hit it head on because it is difficult to understand emotionally. As a young kid, you should never be afraid to be yourself. “Wonder” does an amazing job of encouraging people to be more empathetic about others who have different struggles than their own, most notably physical attributes that are not easily hidden. It will push all audience members to accept people no matter the differences they have and appreciate everyone for who they are. Everyone should stand out and share themselves with the world in open, honest, and equal ways.

Our Grade: A
Rated: PG
Length: 113 minutes
Genre: Drama
Directed by: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson