20 December 2017 | Jared_Andrews
It's a tearjerker
When you learn that a movie's premise is about a young boy with facial differences, you know it's going to tug at your heart strings, wet your eyes, and put a lump in your throat. On those notes, Wonder delivers in a big way.
Wonder tells the story of Augie Bloom (Jacob Tremblay), a 10-year-old boy who attends school for the first time, after his mother (Julia Roberts) had previously home-schooled him. His journey hits all the affecting, though predictable notes. He encounters bullies, a nice kid, an understanding and comforting principle, and a hip young teacher who possesses the wisdom of someone much older.
Nothing on Augie's journey's will surprise you, but I challenge you to resist the emotional ebbs and flows along the way. That's the movie's main objective. It wants to make you cry and it succeeds in doing so. Aside from a few occasions in which it resorts to shameless manipulations, you won't feel too terribly about giving in to the feel-goodness.
The performances are sincere, even if the actors are more so playing clichés than thoughtfully-formed characters. Julia Roberts shines are the tough and loving mother. Owen Wilson plays the dad with his familiar cool guy with a big heart routine. It works. While he plays a supporting role in Augie's life compared to mom, he keys some of the pivotal moments of Augie's growth. Augie's sister Via (Isabela Vidovic) dutifully asks little of her parents, knowing how much work and attention they must give to her brother.
The best part of the movie is that we see multiple perspectives, like that of Via. Several times during the movie, a different character's name appears on screen and we see his or her story. Via is one. Augie's friend Jack Will (Noah Jupe, tremendous young actor) is another. Via's best friend's personal story, who inexplicably distances herself from Via this school year, is the most illuminating. Director Stephen Chbosky's makes a wise choice to cover the story from other points of view. From this we can see not only Augie's story, but also the impact that he has on others.
Though I'd like to have seen the material speak for itself more often, rather forced upon viewers in a way that feels, well, forced. We're going to feel sorrow during Augie's struggles and uplifted during his triumphs. Additional attempts to emotionally manipulate aren't necessary. Luckily, they don't overshadow the movie's warm moments or its wonderful message.
The winning moments outnumber the sigh-worthy ones. And the overall effect is charming. Augie really is a great kid. It's okay to shed a tear and smile.