"Be Kind to Others"
What You Need To Know:
WONDER has some of the year’s best, most endearing performances. Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts are terrific playing Auggie’s parents. As Auggie, 11-year-old Jacob Tremblay commands the screen. WONDER’s message of empathy is a message society needs right now. The movie doesn’t excuse the bad behavior of the story’s villains, the bullies. However, it pushes the characters and viewers to have empathy for these individuals in a way that encourages people to follow Jesus Christ’s command to “love your enemies.” WONDER does have several light profanities and a strong profanity by one bully. So, caution is advised.
(BBB, CC, L, V, A, M) Very strong moral worldview encouraging kindness, compassion, empathy, and forgiveness, with strong Christian elements, including mother prays, “Dear God, let them be nice to him” as her son enters school, and woman says her grandson has “angels looking out for him”; no obscenities, but one bully misuses of Jesus Christ’s name, five light OMG profanities, one use of “sucks,” and principal jokes about how his last name is Tushman, and he repeats some of the names he gets called for it; light violence from bullies, one child punches another, older bullies pick on younger children and a fight breaks out, but the children get out unscathed for the most part, and one child says that if he “looked like Auggie, he’d kill himself”; no sex scenes, but kissing between two teenagers; no nudity; light alcohol consumption, one person jokes “let’s get drunk”; no smoking or drug references; and, bullying between children.
WONDER is a family-drama about Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a facial deformity who’s entering school for the first time after being homeschooled by his mother. The movie looks at his first year in school from his perspective, as well as the perspective of those around him. WONDER is a terrifically empathetic movie that will have viewers crying tears of joy, but there are some cautionary elements.
Auggie has a pretty good life. His Dad, Nate (Owen Wilson), is funny and charming, his Mother, Isabel (Julia Roberts), is patient, caring and has taught Auggie practically everything he knows, and his older sister, Via (short for Olivia), is also incredibly loving to her brother. Auggie is worried about being bullied at school because of the way he looks. Normally, he prefers to wear an astronaut’s helmet to hide his face, but of course he can’t do that at school.
Auggie’s parents trepidatiously send their sweet son to his first day of school. As expected, Auggie gets lots of stares and is ridiculed, but to everyone’s surprise, Auggie makes some friends. First, there’s Jack Will, who was originally part of the cool kid crowd, but becomes friends with Auggie when he realizes how cool Auggie actually is. Then, there’s Summer, a girl who wanted some nice friends for a change, so she befriends Auggie.
Of course, there’s up and downs at school for Auggie, which means his parents put a lot of their time and energy in him, instead of his sister Via. This is when the movie looks at the perspective of Auggie’s older sister, Via, who longs for her parents’ attention so much that she even tells a boy she likes at school that she’s an only child. The movie also shows things from Jack Will’s perspective, as well as Via’s former best friend Miranda, who once was a part of the family but decided to distance herself from Via.
WONDER has some of the best, most endearing performances of the year. Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts as Auggie’s parents are terrific, and 11-year-old Jacob Tremblay commands the screen as Auggie. The dialogue is very well written, but the movie’s narrative structure meanders and doesn’t really hint as to where the story is heading. It’s clear that the movie’s based on a novel due to its episodic nature. That said, the end result is still one that evokes strong emotion and empathy.
What’s most powerful about WONDER is the positive nature of the Pullman family. Yes, at times they fight and are hurt by one another, but what comes across most strongly is how much the family loves each other. Even the “jealous” older sister shows a sacrificial love for her brother that is almost non-existent in Hollywood movies. Additionally, WONDER’s message of empathy is a message our society and culture needs right now. The movie doesn’t excuse the bad behavior of some of the movie’s villains (the bullies), but it pushes the characters and the audience to have empathy for these individuals in a way that encourages us to follow Christ’s command to “love your enemies.” WONDER is one of those movies you leave and want to strive to be a kinder, more compassionate person.
WONDER is very close to being wholesome and safe for the entire family, but there are several light “OMG” profanities and one unnecessary misuse of Jesus Christ’s name by one of the bullies. Because of this, caution is advised.