Wonder, based on the bestselling novel by R.J. Palicio, is about August Pullman, a boy born with facial deformities due to Treacher Collins Syndrome. Originally homeschooled, as Auggie is about to enter middle school his parents decide it is time for him to enroll in school and be with other kids.
One of the best things about this movie is the tremendous cast. It was great seeing Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts again. I feel like I haven't seen them in ages but in these roles, as Mom and Dad, I remembered why I liked them—they both play the right mix of concern and caring.
For the most part, the child actors are good as well. It isn't until we get to some of the bully’s henchmen that you can actually see the kids thinking about what they should be doing, which is a fairly deep lineup of quality child actors—a credit to the casting director.
There were some complaints online that the movie cast Jacob Tremblay in the lead role instead of a kid who lives with Treacher Collins Syndrome. I agree it would have been nice to see the producers make an honest effort to cast this role more equitably (I have no doubt they did not try a real search), but I would also imagine the pool of 10-year-olds with Treacher Collins Syndrome who know how to act is very small. The actor playing Auggie needed to pull off a range of emotions throughout the story—a difficult job for any child actor—and Tremblay does a tremendous job in the lead role. If he hadn’t convinced the audience of Auggie’s joy, laughter, loneliness, sadness, and compassion, this movie would have fallen apart.
Fans of the book will enjoy the movie. I haven’t read it, but my fiancée did, and she said the movie stays true to the source material. The story even shifts perspectives in the movie, similar to the rotating chapters in the book, which surprised her – in a nice way. Keeping that narrative device helps properly signify the importance of understanding other people’s perspective.
Wonder is a story worthy of as many eyeballs as possible. It has stayed in the top five of the box office due to strong word of mouth. Class trips, church outings, and Girl Scout troops have been lining up to go see this movie. I would advocate for more people to read the book, as the author no doubt expands on ideas and characters that the movie has to bypass. However, with a terrific cast, a lot of heart, and just the right amount of silliness, there is something for everyone in Wonder.