November 30, 2017 | Blog
“Boy” Wonder: A review that flies into space
Author: Merrick Egber (November 30th, 2017)
I’m an open person when it comes to movies. I may be a single 31 year old man with no kids, but if an animated movie or a family movie comes out with good reviews, I’ll go and see it, no matter what others think. Sure, the viewing audience around me will be composed of plenty of families, but I’m used to it. Whenever I would go to a video game store to look at the games on sale, it would usually be my 28 year old self and a host of 14 year olds interested in the same games that I would love to play. Thus, when “Wonder” came out, and got a consensus score in the mid-80s from my go-to-web site Rotten Tomatoes.com, I had to go, after all it is always good to feel inspired by something.
The movie, at its basest level, is about a boy by the name of August “Auggie” Pullman, played with charm and wit by Jacob Tremblay, who had to have multiple surgical operations to get his face to work, which still left his face looking deformed. Homeschooled all his life, his parents have decided that it would be a good idea for him to join his peers at a nice prep school for the fifth grade before he moves onto a middle school education. The movie follows the traditional route of an unusual individual managing to adapt to a new environment for a span of time, in this case, a school year. And that would be a good thing, already, if it wasn’t adapted from a novel.
Because of its literary ambition, the movie tries to strike a deeper chord. It isn’t just about Auggie but also about the young people around him, their expectations, hopes, fears, and how his presence either changes their lives, or affects them. You get to learn more about these characters, that every reaction and gesture comes from a spot of good intentions, even if they may not message it clearly enough on first try. While I would’ve liked to learn more about the parents, the principal, even the antagonist of the story, that wasn’t the movie’s fixation, and I can respect that.
Before I do the critical part of my review, I would like to put out two tips that the movie does teach viewers, that may be pretty important:
1. Always keep your sense of humor. “Wonder” is a drama but with strong comedic elements. There are moments in the film, like when Augie talks to a new friend about plastic surgery and his face, “It took years of surgery to look this good”, that show how resilient Augie really is. The parents of him, played by Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts, also have a good sense of humor about their lives, but because of a strong desire to see Augie grow and prosper just like everybody else.
- Exposure to “normal” people is very important for a person’s development, especially by having a “normal” friend. When Augie starts the movie, he is still wearing an astronaut’s helmet, has no major friends, and is unknown to the world. At the end, he has a group of friends, forgoes the helmet, and ends up getting duly recognized. He has made a major development as a person rising above what those critical of his appearance would say, and makes those willing to receive him, better people in understanding the differences of others. Tolerance, and respect can come from greater exposure to different people, of course.
Instead of waxing about the performances, the writing, the story itself, which were all good, I would like to say that the appeal of a good family movie, is that it makes you want to be a part of the universe around the characters, to maybe even relate to one or two, and, after watching the movie, I would’ve liked to have been invited to a Pullman family shindig, when I was much younger, and I did see a little bit of me in the characters, themselves. So, overall, a funny, not condescending, literate, and skillful movie, if you get past that it’s just a “family movie” you’ll see the heart inside, kind of like Auggie himself.
8.8 out of 10