Wonderful, Wonderful and Most Wonderful!
The Twitter hashtag for the film Wonder is “#choosekind” and it is hard to imagine anyone choosing anything else after they’ve seen this movie! One of the most wonderful things about Wonder is that as the audience, you are not just transported to the main character, Auggie’s (August’s) world, you are transported to the family’s world, and how it revolves around him.
Auggie was born with a rare genetic disease that attacks his auto immune system, and since birth he has undergone twenty seven surgeries. While these surgeries have greatly improved the deformities he was born with, Auggie still stands out in a crowd, when all he really wants is to blend in.
Auggie’s family’s existence has been all about keeping him alive, and in the process, loving him to the depths of their souls. Home schooled by his mother, who has put her dreams on hold for ten years, he ventures into the frightening world of middle school, on his own for the first time in his life. Like the astronauts he admires, he is stepping out into a new world “where no man has gone before”. His parents remind him that he is never alone, but that’s hard to remember when you’re eating alone at lunch, and walking the halls at school trying to avoid the stares of others.
Wonder deftly sidesteps the clichés so easily used in other stories, and gets right to the point. We all want to be loved and accepted. Thankfully, Auggie has the love, and strength of his family behind him. They are not movie stars, but real people whose own relationships bolster their courage and love. If Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as Auggie’s parents weren’t so grounded in their relationship with each other, this would be an entirely different film, more in line with a family tragedy. But Wonder embraces the comedy of difficult moments. It chooses to see the wonderful parts of life and of others.
The school bully who mercilessly picks on Auggie is revealed to be just as terrified as every one else in middle school. His vapid, self centered parents, are revealed to be the reason for his lack of compassion. Auggie’s long suffering, selfless sister Via has her own troubles fitting in at high school, and navigating the confusing waters of friendship. Her best friend, Miranda suffers the divorce of her parents, her father’s almost instant remarriage, and her mother’s depression, while having her own identity crisis. Just as in real life, everyone’s got problems, and the answers are hard won.
There is so much more I could say about this film, about the amazing writing based on the book by R.J. Palacio , the talented actors, Jacob Tremblay as Auggie and Noah Jupe as Jack Will, Auggie’s best friend, the humanity of the characters, the realism of the middle school experience (except for the super cool Principal brilliantly played by Mandy Patinkin ). It’s all there, you just have to go and see it. Look for Wonder in theatres everywhere. You might see the wonder in your own life too!