“Wonder” Is Out Of This World

John Benedeck, Staff Writer

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“Wonder” is an honest portrayal of adolescence and youth culture; the struggles of parenting, and a refreshing take on acceptance and prejudgment.

The film tells the story of August “Auggie” Pullman, a 10-year-old boy who was homeschooled by his Mom in an upscale neighborhood in Brooklyn. His Dad is an eccentric, laid-back man who encourages him to follow his dreams.

Auggie dreams of one day becoming an astronaut and to make something of himself. Besides being homeschooled, his extreme facial deformity seemingly sets him apart from the other 10-year-olds of New York.

The conflict begins when Auggie’s parents decide it is time for him to attend mainstream school. Not surprisingly, he is apprehensive about it. He wears a space helmet when out in public to hide his face (or his feelings), so reluctance is not hard to believe. He, like other young kids, is self-conscious.

While the movie does tackle his strife and how August deals with bullying, the plot flips the tables to the perspective of his family and friends. It was an astonishing turn that, in all honesty, kept me on the edge of my seat. I was pleasantly surprised.

The film presented the situations and stories of Auggie’s sister, Via, his close new friend, Jack Will, and his sister’s friend, Miranda. Each of these parallel story lines gives the viewer a sense of sympathy and understanding actions. While each character affects Auggie in both positive and negative ways, the exposure of backgrounds allows viewers to warrant behaviors for themselves.

There have been many films about characters with disabilities and deformities. Most of them offer a single perspective: how people first responded to the character, and how they come to accept them. “Wonder,” offers that, and so much more.

The unique approach to real life is a reminder that “everything is not always as it seems.” I am sure we have all heard of that theme before. This film amplifies it and hits you hard with it. It is a weapon the film uses to convict its viewers. It is also offered as a tool for viewers to use to appreciate differences.

The only drawback taken from the movie is such a far cry, it can certainly be disregarded: the acting. Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Izabela Vidovic all perform flawless and heart-wrenching roles. Others like Bryce Gheisar who plays the antagonist Julian, act in almost a Vaudevillian manner making his role virtually unbelievable.

Nonetheless, “Wonder” is more than just a box office film with popular actors. It is a lesson and important depiction of how young kids should and should not act towards people with disabilities. It further emphasizes the amazing mind that Auggie possesses, despite his physical abnormalities.

He is kind, he is witty, he is intelligent, and he is Auggie.

Fortunately, along with millions of other patrons, I loved this film and urge everyone to see it. Learn from it. Take its premises literally, and, as the film so firmly points out, “We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.”

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