Based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to a mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the local fifth grade. As his family, his new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to discover their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B., comments, “This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.” Benjamin P. adds, “Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.” Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer wraps it up with, “This film has messages of limitless love and developing and building friendships as Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.” See their full reviews and Benjamin’s interview with the author of the book and film producer below.
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14
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This is a movie I was anticipating since I saw the first trailer. The trailer alone had me in tears, so I already knew it was going to touch my heart. Well, wouldn’t you know, my assumptions were correct.
The story is about 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, a kid with facial deformities due to a gene disorder. He is starting 5th grade, middle school and struggles to fit in at a new school. Seriously, middle school is tough for everyone, so add to that being different and being home-schooled until 5th grade. It’s a minefield.
This movie is an adaptation of the book “Wonder” which is a popular read in middle school. No, I didn’t read the book, but now I want to, since I love this movie for multiple reasons. First, the acting is fantastic, particularly the emotional scenes, which is probably why I cried so much. This movie has some pretty good star power. Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and of course, Daveed Diggs, who stars in Hamilton, are all part of this cast. I absolutely love the characters in this film. A lot of the supporting roles actually have important parts and each character is unique and likeable as well. All except Julian’s mom, the only character that isn’t really redeemable. Still, Auggie’s parents, his sister, his friends, his teachers, and, of course, Auggie himself, Jacob Tremblay, make this movie exceptional. Not only that, the teachers and the principal at his school are so much better than teachers at actual schools. A big theme and important message, is the way parents raise their kids. I believe this is a true and good message.
One thing that makes this story unique is the different perspectives of other characters and their lives. Certain characters come off as mean, but you see through their life through their eyes and get a different view. Although the main focus is Auggie, characters like his sister get nice subplots that contribute to providing extra context of the character, but not drawing our attention away from the main plot. Some may complain that the entire story revolves around Auggie and I can understand those impressions. However, I think of it as a way of showing that Auggie changed many people’s lives for the better. The script is also really well done, with a good balance of funny and emotional writing.
I definitely give this movie 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18. This movie comes out November 17, 2017 in theaters nationwide so go check it out.
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
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Interview with Author and Director
By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12
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Wonder is an uplifting film that translates to the screen very well, thanks to some spot-on casting and good performances across the board.
Based on a popular novel by R.J Palacio, Wonder follows Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a boy with a craniofacial disorder. He lives with his parents and his older sister. His mom enrolls Auggie in the fifth grade at a nearby school after years of homeschooling. Hesitant but confident, Auggie struggles to make new friends and encounters bullies. The movie follows different perspectives of people in Auggie’s life throughout the school year. Another key plotline follows his sister Via. She loves her brother, but sometimes feels like her parents ignore her. Now her grandmother, the only person who puts her first, is gone and her best friend has abandoned her for a new group of friends from summer camp. The movie triumphantly brings these and other viewpoints together for a full, rich storytelling experience as Auggie’s personality leads people to care less about what he looks like, but the kind of person he is on the inside.
Seeing A-list stars such as Julia Roberts, who plays Auggie’s mom, portray characters from one of my favorite books piqued my interest for this adaptation, but I did not expect the film to be so excellent in its execution. It maintains the spirit of the novel, without feeling sappy, thanks to the direction and screenwriting from Stephen Chbosky, the author and director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The emotion onscreen is just as raw as conveyed in the book and the scenes carry the same poignant effect. Just like with the novel, you fall in love with these characters and care about what happens to them. Jacob Tremblay is especially fantastic as Auggie and shows a compelling range of emotion. He brings confidence to the character and represents his softer sides as well.
The lesson of Wonder is that it shouldn’t matter what a person looks like, but who they are on the inside. Auggie is bullied for what he looks like, but people should not be judged by appearance, but rather by their character.
I recommend Wonder for ages 7 to 18. There are some scenes with characters in peril, as well as some scenes of bullying. Bullying is a hard topic to watch on film, but kids should be aware that it is an issue. I give Wonder 4 out of 5 stars. It is available in theaters now so be sure to check it out.
By Juanita L., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror
I enjoyed watching Wonder, based on the book by R.J. Palacio. It is a very uplifting story about Auggie Pullman (Jacob Tremblay), a young boy with a facial difference who enters private school for the first time in fifth grade. Auggie has been home-schooled by his mother who decides it is time for him to have a real school experience. We can feel Auggie’s pain as he gets a taste of the best and the worst of human nature. He goes through 27 surgeries. Some of the students he meets are kind and accepting, others are not sure and some are just cruel. Auggie wants to do normal things and he is upset and afraid to face the kids’ reactions to his appearance.
One of my favorite scenes happens in the beginning when the director of his new school (Mandy Patinkin) introduces Auggie to a small group of students before school starts, thinking this will help ease the transition. I felt this was a wonderful way to help Auggie feel comfortable. You will have to see the film and decide if you think it works.
Auggie’s parents (Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson) along with his sister Via (Izabela Vidovic) provide unbelievable love and support to him. It is almost not real. The story and the characters show us a range of human emotions. Auggie wants to be treated like a normal kid. Via wants her parents to give her some attention and ask about the day SHE HAD at school. Mom has put her life on hold to care for Auggie and now sees a chance to complete her dissertation. Auggie’s father tries to be a supportive, understanding and caring father. This film has messages of limitless love and developing and building friendships AS Auggie says, “If you really want to see who people are…just look.”
The visuals and music are excellent and bring an element of fun. The elements of bullying and some of the emotion around Auggie’s beloved dog might be intense for younger children. I recommend Wonder for ages 9 to 18 as well as adults. Be inspired and experience Wonder at your local theater when it opens November 17, 2017.