It’s a very tasteful heart-tugger — 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.
Wonder is as manipulative as movies get, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a story needs to steer you; sometimes a story tells you what to feel, but redeems itself by virtue of the sincerity with which it shows why you should feel that way.
The Film Stage
Much of the film’s success does reside upon Chbosky’s mostly restrained execution, but it is Tremblay that carries it. His fully rendered and exceptional performance is something of a miracle as it joyously goes past the prosthetics and into the core of his character’s roller coaster of emotions.
Wonder does occasionally suffer from kid-movie pitfalls, straining to be cute or mining humor from ridiculously precocious little ones. But mostly it succeeds in telling not one complicated story, but many, and giving the experience of being a confused or lonely or scared youngster the space it deserves.
Giving the film credit where it’s due, Wonder never cheats in its pursuit of emotion. It’s never mawkish or manipulative, and its characters are so well-established both in the writing and in the performances that the movie ultimately does the hard work of earning those damp Kleenexes.
New York Daily News
Kids may not notice or care, but the movie, which advocates kindness, comes with an irony. It’s a film about embracing differences and seeing beyond appearances, but it rarely bucks convention or gets more than skin deep.
The Hollywood Reporter
Wonder is a story of connection, not suffering. Dramatizing one boy's effect on the people around him, it invites the viewer into that fold.
Wonder promotes the benefits of human decency in a time when those virtues feel limited, and wins you over by being a pretty good film about being good — and that’s good enough for it to work.
Because of the quality of the performances and the sincerity of the execution, Wonder doesn’t need to artificially stir our emotions, so it’s a shame that Chbosky lets the tone get away from him, badgering viewers with his points rather than simply letting the material speak for itself.
It is a film with all the depth of a fridge magnet.