Film Review: Wonder – 7/10

‘You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out…’

Kids can be fucking mean. It’s not their fault, of course. They just haven’t developed the critical faculties required to act responsibly around others. When I think back to my own experiences of being mercifully mocked for wearing the wrong colour blazer or cheap football boots it brings home how hard it must be for someone who actually does have a reason to stand out amongst their peers. Wonder explores how this would play out through the prism of a boy with a facial deformity entering mainstream school for the first time…

August Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) is the boy, and Beecher Prep is the school. After previously being homeschooled by his parents (gamely played by Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts), August or “Auggy” as he is more commonly known, encounters school bullies, cruel adults and indifferent teachers on his predictable yet undoubtedly heartwarming journey through middle school.

Wonder is perhaps a little too sentimental for my tastes but writer-director Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) does a great job of injecting humour and warmth in a film that could easily have been a standard weepie in lesser hands. Tremblay, buried under prosthetics that took 90 minutes each day to apply, delivers an impressive performance for someone so young and Chbosky wisely allows the child actors to take centre stage despite assembling a talented adult supporting cast.

While Wonder is a fairly derivative film, its central message of kindness and acceptance is an important one and if you were looking to cinema to inspire young people to be better then Chbosky’s film would be a good starting point.