When people with differences come into our world, most treat them differently often in ways that hurt their feelings. As often represented in films though, it’s these different individuals who often change the world and make it better. This is the theme of yet another book turned movie, entitled Wonder, centering on a boy named Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) who after numerous surgeries looks a little different from the physical scoring. Upon his debut in high school, Auggie is introduced to the world he has hidden from, impacting it more than he ever imagined. Robbie K back with another review on Wonder!
Casting: Another example that a great cast can pull out some awesome work, Wonder’s assortment of actors and actresses bring this tale to life. Tremblay himself has the victimized role down well, controlling his emotions and unleashing them in a realistic manner of a kid tortured by cruelty of others. His energy is infective and bleeds not only into the other kids, but into the audience on his journey of growth. The central role of the movie, Tremblay manages to connect well with his co-actors, and further strengthening their chemistry. Julia Roberts, no surprise, brings her magic to the screen, charging the movie with that intensity and control that the maternal role requires. Izabela Vidovic has some emotional charge to her role, a balance of anger, confusion, and excitement that breaks some of the tension this movie has. And Owen Wilson, though not as involved as you expect, nailed his role with well-delivered comedy that again breaks the tension.
Pace is good: For a movie all about drama, this movie moves at a good pace to keep the adventure entertaining and meaningful. Wonder has to cover a lot of stories and perspectives established by the book, which meant potential convoluted storytelling and drawn out plot dynamics. With the exception of a few plots, the team did a great job addressing each character’s story, moving them together at a speed that felt complete, yet didn’t feel like molasses flowing down a hill. Mix this with all the great comedic devices and challenges, and I felt fully entertained and emotionally fulfilled by the tale at hand.
The message: Of course, the biggest thing Wonder has is the message that Auggie and the gang bring in regards to a lot of life qualities. The importance of family, not judging a book by its cover, and lessons about friendship will ring loud at the presentation this movie brings. While some of the dialogue is cheesy, with a little over/under playing involved, much of this movie hits you with a strong, hammer blow to crack the stone casing our hearts may dwell in. The end scene in particular really speaks volumes and had me believe that not everyone is a carbon copy of the rude nature this world breeds. Wonder’s message is simple, see people for the inside not the outside, and learn how to accept people for their differences.
Sadness: A good sad scene can really draw a movie together and solidify the emotional punch of the movie. Unfortunately, Wonder is chock full of depressing moments that can really bum you out in the long run. The bullying aspect is only the start of things, as other family turmoil reveals itself, one will find their mood further going downhill, bumming them out as you wait for something good to happen to this family. If you have a lot of depression on your mind, then do me a solid and steer clear of this movie, or you may find yourself further depressed at the end of the movie.
The Loose ends: Wonder’s storytelling is unique in that it tries to culminate a number of the characters and get into their heads. Sadly, despite getting a nice underlining motif to their behaviors… many of these stories are a little shallower than I expected. Like a wading pool, a lot of the characters give you a mere 1-2 sentences of their backstory before turning attention back to Auggie. Others, don’t even get that shot to elaborate their story. Such one layered storytelling was not only disappointing due to laziness, but also unnecessary for me, when much of their problems were again explained in their interactions with Auggie. So perhaps not rushed ends, but another example of poor editing choices.
The character interruptions: The group took a gamble mirroring the book and trying to break things into chapters. However, as mentioned above, these little excerpts weren’t really needed and took away from the momentum of the movie for me. Why did I need to see so many flashbacks in this movie, when a simple dialogue or editing tip could have done this without interrupting the flow of the film? The answer is… I didn’t, and no matter how unique this shout out to the book is, for a cinema presentation though… this film needed to rethink this option and tie them all together in the more formulaic manner.
Wonder is a beautiful, soulful movie that is all about teaching you important qualities that we should already know. It feels much like a book in much of its delivery, keeping in time with the novel it is based on, which will most likely please many of the fans. In addition to the great moral lesson, the pace and casting are the selling points of this movie that will charm your way into your hearts. The real limitations to this movie are more in the presentation and how much it tried to copy the book, interrupting the momentum of the movie to try to give you a complete picture, but didn’t make it feel necessary to me. But despite these limitations and sadness, Wonder works on many levels and is the heartwarming family movie of the weekend.
Movie Overall: 7.5