Wonder (PG)

In a Word: Sparkling

Wonder2

Auggie in his trademark helmet (Jacob Tremblay) with his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic), preparing to tackle the schoolground.

 

"It's largely a story of the ups and downs of children's lives, yes, but director Stephen Chbosky has done a good job in ensuring it's not one which overly panders to that audience making this a film that appeals to younger children, teenagers and adults alike." 

Wonder, based on RJ Palacio's best-selling 2012 book of the same name (and a favourite of school curriculums in recent years), is the story of 10-year-old Auggie (August) Pullman, a boy born with cranio-facial deformities which have seen him undergo surgery numerous times in his short life. 

Having been home schooled for the first years of his education (where his parents can protect him from the other kids), Auggie, who has taken to wearing a space helmet to hide from the world, is now about to face his first days at a "real" school.

The story follows Auggie (played by Jacob Tremblay) as he faces the expected challenges that go with being different at school (and the casual cruelty of other children), watched on by his anxious parents - mother Isabel (Julia Roberts) and father Nate (Owen Wilson in a rather unusually serious role for him) - and supported by the school's staff led by the principal Mr Tushman (Mandy Patinkin) - a man I'm sure we all wish we had at our school when kids (he doesn't even mind if you laugh at his name). Auggie finds friends including Jack Will (Noah Jupe) and Summer (Millie Davis) and, of course, comes under fire from the school bully Julian (Bryce Gheisar).

The story, like the book, is told from the different perspectives of various major characters including Auggie as well as his parents and his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) who is facing her own crisis as she returns to school after summer holidays to find her best friend Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell) no longer wants to have anything to do with her.

It's largely a story of the ups and downs of children's lives, yes, but director Stephen Chbosky has done a good job in ensuring it's not one which overly panders to that audience making this a film that appeals to younger children, teenagers and adults alike. Essentially a character film, the casting is a key to the film's success along with the deft way in which subjects like difference and the importance of kindness are explored without falling into the trap of being preachy.

A safe bet for the holidays. Auggie Pullman truly is a wonder.