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MOVIE REVIEW

Wonder also known as “Wonder - Encantador,” “Extraordinario,” “Extraordinário,” “Az igazi csoda,” “Cudo,” “Cudowny chlopak,” “Gerumo stebuklas,” “Väike ime,” “Wunder,” “Čudo,” “Θαύμα,” «Чудо»

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for thematic elements including bullying, and some mild language.

Reviewed by: Jonathan Rodriguez
CONTRIBUTOR

Good
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Family
Genre:
Family Drama Adaptation
Length:
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
2017
USA Release:
November 17, 2017 (wide—3,172 theaters)
Copyright, Lionsgate click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lionsgate
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate

Physical deformities

Being born with Treacher Collins syndrome

The true value of every person is their eternal soul, which is internal—not the external and very temporary physical form that the world sees.

Copyright, Lionsgate

The great importance of kindness and love

MOTHER son relationships

FATHER son relationships

Copyright, Lionsgate

Bullying / How to handle bullies

Who can TRULY give you the necessary courage to face a world full of problems, bad behavior and pain? Who is the only One who can truly see who you are on the inside? Whose love never fails?

Copyright, Lionsgate

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
Is Jesus Christ the answer to your questions?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers
Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Discover God’s promise for all people—told beautifully and clearly from the beginning. Discover The HOPE! Watch it on-line, full-length motion picture.
Copyright, Lionsgate
Issue of pain and suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate Copyright, Lionsgate
Featuring: Jacob Tremblay … August “Auggie” Pullman
Owen WilsonNate Pullman, Auggie’s father and Isabel’s husband
Julia RobertsIsabel Pullman, Auggie’s mother and Nate’s wife
Sonia Braga … Grans, Mrs. Russo, Isabel’s mother
Mandy PatinkinMr. Tushman
Izabela Vidovic … Olivia “Via” Pullman, Auggie’s sister
Mark Dozlaw … Teenage Doctor
Rukiya Bernard … Nurse
Jennifer March … Neonatologist
Noah Jupe … Jack Will, Auggie’s best friend at school
Bryce Gheisar … Julian
Crystal Lowe … Julian's Mom
See all »
Director: Stephen Chbosky—“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012), Screenplay: “Beauty and the Beast” (2017)
Producer: Walden Media
Participant Media
See all »
Distributor: Lionsgate

“Wonder” tells the story of Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy born with severe facial deformities who is about to enter the daunting world of middle school. Starting middle school is hard for all children, of course, but Auggie has spent his scholastic years being home-schooled by his mother Isabel (Julia Roberts). This will be Auggie’s first extended exposure to other children, who will no doubt point and stare and mock.

His parents continue to wrestle with whether or not it’s a good idea, with Auggie’s father Nate (Owen Wilson) going so far as saying they are basically “leading a lamb to slaughter.” But, they know the boy will have to face the world at some point, and so with lots of encouragement from them and from Auggie’s older sister Via (Izabela Vidovic), and a few tears, Auggie enters Beecher Prep to start the 5th grade.

He meets the principal, Mr. Tushman (Mandy Patinkin) a few days before school starts, and is greeted by a welcoming party of 3 fellow 5th-graders tasked with showing Auggie around the school. All 4 kids are nervous for various reasons, and one of the boys, Julian, finally just comes out and asks Auggie, “So what’s the deal with your face?” Another boy, Jack, stands up for Auggie and tells Julian to mind his own business.

It’s a brief interaction, but it lays the groundwork for what we know is coming Auggie’s way. School starts, and we see that most kids have no intention of interacting with Auggie, because, as rumor has it, even touching Auggie will give them “the Plague.” As difficult as the first few days are, Auggie slowly begins to acclimate to life in middle school, and slowly but surely starts to win friends with loyalty, smarts, and a good dose of the sense of humor he gets from his father.

Now, a movie like this could very easily follow the standard script and lead us exclusively through all the different nuisances and challenges that Auggie faces. We expect this, after all, because the movie is about Auggie. But, then something happens, maybe a 3rd of the way into the movie to throw it off course. It’s not some dramatic plot moment, but a slight shift in narrative that, not having read the book on which the movie is based, I was not expecting.

We hear from Via that in their world, Auggie is the Sun and everyone else revolves around him. This isn’t the fault of Auggie, or his parents really. It’s understandable. But the movie reminds us that there are other stories within the story, other ways people may be impacted that aren’t as obvious or on the surface. So, we begin to see the story through their eyes, and the movie takes on a much deeper, richer feel. It’s gives us more stories to connect with, characters with which to identify.

Not all of us are born with facial deformities, so instead of allowing us to observe the story of Auggie from afar, it forces us to put ourselves somewhere in the story with the character we see most closely identify with.

“Wonder” is rated PG for “thematic elements including bullying, and some mild language.” Some of the kids are mean to Auggie, but thankfully this movie doesn’t take place in high school, so the level of meanness is relatively mild. A few of the kids joke that they would rather kill themselves than look like Auggie. “Do yourself a favor and die” is written on the back of a class photo that someone has photoshopped Auggie out of. One kid calls another kid a jerk. And one bully near the end of the movie sees Auggie and says “Jesus, that’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.” The film is aimed at families and children, and I’d say this film is appropriate for kids maybe 3rd grade and up.

I’d also say this is a film that all parents should see. And all kids old enough to understand the concepts. There are all sorts of great teaching moments, and this isn’t one of those family-friendly films parents have to begrudgingly sit through to appease their children.

Sacrifice is a theme that works its way throughout the film. Auggie’s mom sacrifices a career to be with and care for her son through many surgeries and then to provide him with a solid educational foundation for when he does eventually start school with other children. Sister Via sacrifices a relationship with her parents so that her parents can provide for Auggie every step of the way. Jack and other children sacrifice popularity to stand up for a boy they’ve grown to truly care for. Even Via’s former best friend makes an unexpected sacrifice along the way.

Of course, we see the theme of kindness and acceptance, both from the people surrounding Auggie and, at times, from Auggie himself. Forgiveness is a theme we see beautifully represented, as well. All parents, be they believers in Christ or not, will find dozens of scenes they can resort back to with their children to discuss these and many other themes that show up throughout the film.

And, as adults who live in a world where even adults bully each other, “Wonder” contains quite a few lessons for us as well. Once again we see the positive impact that parents can have on the lives of their children and the influences they can have on the decisions their children make. Kids who pick on children like Auggie, or any kid for that matter, aren’t just born with that behavior. And this movie makes no effort to hide the finger it is pointing back at parents.

Auggie is able to withstand the perils of being out in public because he is strong like his mother, funny like his father, kind and thoughtful like his sister. My favorite scene in the movie involves Auggie’s sister, who is trying to get Auggie to speak up about something that happened at school. He won’t tell her, and so she tells him that he’s not the only one who has bad days. He lashes back, telling her that her bad days could never compare to ones he is having. And then she lovingly tells him that life can be tough for people out in the real world, no matter what they look like, and that sticking close and staying true to the people who love you most—to family—is what really gets them through the bad days

This movie won’t ever be ranked among the best films ever made, but it is certainly one of the loveliest, and most family-friendly movies I have seen in quite a while. I’m not sure I’ve seen a “kids” movie that felt like such a necessary viewing experiencing for children since “Inside Out” a few years ago.

I was already tearing up within the first few minutes of this film, and knew I was a goner. A movie like this could have felt like a shameless attempt to drain our tear ducts. And while there are a few, fairly unnecessary scenes that do strike that over-the-top note (one involving the family dog), the emotion elicited from the rest of the film feels genuine and earned.

For a family who has spent so long protecting a boy from disgusted glances and awful comments, letting him go into the world was bound to bring about emotions that they hadn’t felt before or even thought they’d have to deal with. The look on Auggie’s mom’s face when he asks to bring a friend home for the first time is so perfect and heartbreaking and joyous all at once that I’m tearing up just thinking about it. The emotions the characters experience are so wide ranging that it’s impossible for people to see this movie and not feel a connection with at least some of them. So, do yourself a favor and go see “Wonder.” And bring tissues. Trust me.

  • Violence: Mild
  • Profane language: Moderate
  • Vulgar/Crude language: None
  • Nudity: None
  • Sex: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—What a delightful movie. The theater was packed and by the end people were (myself included) wiping away tears. So many life lessons on acceptance, bullying, unconditional love, true friendship. Too many to mention. I would strongly recommend this movie, and for children as well.

I plan on seeing it again, it was so uplifting.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Dennis, age 64 (USA)
Positive—Great movie!! Excellent for the whole family. I saw it with my special needs 12 year old, and he loved it, too. He said it’s one of the best movies he’s ever seen.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Chrystal, age 40 (USA)
Positive—Our middle school was sharing a preview of the film, so I took a look. What an interesting story. So we bought our tickets and found a packed theater.

The movie gave a good view of the confused life of middle school students and one family and boy with a very special problem. I loved how it pulled you into the story, did a great character introduction to the boy, and then other key players in the movie. It tied these all together and felt very natural and flowing. Each person was struggling with their own issues and yet Auggie brings them together with his fresh and realistic view of life, friends, and how to deal with life, as a 5th grader.

He is no superhero, there are none in this film in what we consider today as heroes, but it features heroes as normal people in real life. It is totally refreshing.

The cast is an amazing and well known with very familiar faces and accomplished acting skills and highlight the characters with believable honesty.

You will not be disappointed. The violence is normal schoolyard type behavior which most adults have experienced and is not shocking or brutal, but common in bullying.

But this movie isn’t about bullying, it is about the boy with some very real and special challenges that he must face and overcome for the first time in his life. It is uplifting, but make sure the sound is loud enough in the theater, the open crying in the audience can get loud as people weep for the pain this boy of ten must endure and overcome.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John Fox, age 55 (USA)
Positive—Wonder is a beautifully written cinematic photoplay starring Academy Award winner Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, and Izabela Vidovic. All the actors are at the top of their game here. However, the true star is little Jacob Tremblay, who gives an emotionally charged performance. The writing, directing, cinematography, etc. Is top-notch.

Biblically speaking, there is some mild violence and name-calling associated with bullying of a special needs child, which could be unsettling for children with special needs, but such behavior is not condoned. There is no profanity or sexual content. Wonder is a perfect family film.

I highly recommend Wonder, which is rated PG.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—D, age 31 (USA)
Positive—I was curious as to whether the film was going to be either 1) a Hallmark movie, with the script so predictable as to make it better for “straight to video” or 2) something that was so over the top or ridiculous that it would make me regret my ticket.

It was neither! I know the DNA issue is real, but had not read the book. I thought the way the director told the story really added to what could have been a very predictable movie. I really thought the move from Auggie as the focus of the story to re-telling the same story thru the eyes of Via or other characters helped really flesh out everything going on—not just Auggie. Auggie is the main focus of the story, do not get me wrong—but there are many other stories going on at the same time… I really liked how Miranda’s story was revealed.

I also appreciated homeschooling was not ridiculed, or presented with stereotypes. I also liked the fact that the kids seemed to act like kids—not kids repeating adult words from the script.

I believe there were 2 “OMGs” and one use of Christ’s name in a manner that I didn’t appreciate—but, all in all, it was a fine movie, and I was surprised at it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Casey, age 52 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…a family film in the best sense. …[3½/4]
Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
…engaging, warmhearted family story… The old maxim exhorting us to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” is the thesis of Wonder—it’s even quoted at the end of the film—and Wonder handles it well…
Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
…Winningly unpretentious, just like its central characters… a truly kid-centric drama, speaking directly to kids, not around them, while exploring their points of view…
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
…A drama of disarmingly level-headed empathy that glides along with wit, assurance, and grace, and has something touching and resonant to say about the current climate of American bullying. …
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
…earnest and sweet, with great messages about kindness, friendship, and acceptance for its tween target audience…
Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media
…The movie has a cast that’s wonderful from top to bottom. …
Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
…overflows with empathy and humanism… all through the movie there are details and lines (many from the book) that put a complicated spin on the ability to cope. (It’s not just a matter of being strong. You have to be smart.)…
David Edelstein, Vulture
…the best thing “Wonder” has got going for it is the remarkable young actor Jacob Tremblay in the role of Auggie. …“Wonder” has an earnest message about kindness that helps offset its After School Special flaws… has the integrity to understand that not even kindness can eliminate all problems. …
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
…“When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” That simple dictum informs every frame of the film, accounting for both its warm-hearted sense of empathy as well as its mawkish sentimentality, audience-flattering righteousness, and total lack of ambiguity or irreconcilability… [2/4]
Keith Watson, Slant
…manipulative feelgood drama comes with hefty dollop of treacle… Wilson drawls, Julia Roberts whispers and the audience snores in this ham-fisted heartwarmer… [2/5]
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)
…possibly for the benefit of its younger audience—telegraphs way too much of its story far too quickly. If you’re old enough to have seen all those Eighties ABC Afterschool Specials… you’ll already be overfamiliar with this movie’s narrative. It’s more than a tad manipulative, but there’s also a moral sweetness…
Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle