Wonder – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Wonder – 4/5 – Adapting a story to the big screen always has a high bar to overcome.  These adaptations will always be compared to the original material.  The film must find a way to capture the spirit of the book, short story, comic or game.  Wonder, an adaptation of an acclaimed novel, puts forward the aspect of human nature in its rawest form.  Providing the essence of relative themes, Wonder gives you a journey of one child being the inspiration for all.  Even with a lot of obvious tropes, Wonder shows you how to adapt to the big screen.

Premise:  A story about a boy named Auggie, who must endear attending a real school for the first time.

The film puts its focus on the Pullman family:

Julia Roberts as Isabel Pullman (Mother)

Owen Wilson as Nate Pullman (Father)

Jacob Tremblay as Auggie (Son)

Izabela Vidovic as Via (Daughter)

Each actor/actress does an amazing job in creating down-to-earth characters.  You see that they have issues related to growing up, love, school and family drama.  As the lens of the story weaves through their eyes, the revolving door grounds the characters to relevant detail.  They capture the ‘family’ trope and push it into the realm of believability.  This adds an enduring motive, giving the actors/actresses the ability to emphasize their personalities as if they were part of your life.  You are gripped each individual, seeing how their trials and tribulations reflect social issues that anyone can face in everyday situations.  This allows the audience to look past the generic dialogue and cliché consequences.  For the rest of the cast, please refer to the film’s IMDb page.  The secondary cast are the basic ‘background’ element found in any feel-good film.  They provide worth to the world around the Pullman’s, but don’t go beyond the basic threads for their development.

The direction takes the basic draw of the feel-good genre and moves it away from linear progression.  What the director does is break the central story into paralleling ‘perspective’ plot lines, where the main plot is broken into segments that are built ‘through the eyes’ of each member of the Pullman family.  This allows for the audience to live and feel their personal struggles, seeing how they go about with their everyday lives.  With this structure, it allows for multiple perspectives to move the plot along, showing how the ‘feel good’ mantra can be genuine on an individual level.  From the beginning, you see how the Pullmans adjust to Auggie going from being home schooled to attending a real school.  This decision has a ripple effect that touches everyone that crosses paths (family, friends, etc.) with Auggie throughout the film.  This plot point starts a path of strong characterization to ‘real-life’ scenarios, allowing for the human element to flip the predictability of the story.  This reveals the flawed nature of relationships between children and parents.  Giving that twofold approach raises the development of the family dynamic, moving away from forced exposition and obvious outcomes.  There is a real growth seeing the Pullmans intersect unforeseen confrontation in honest ways.  From the joyous moments to the bittersweet revelations, the family (as a whole) becomes characterized as much as the individuals themselves.  This learning experience shows where they must adjust to ongoing new situations.  As the film reaches the final act, it falls back into the expected feel-good tropes.  With a mixture of ‘facing your fears’ and ‘overcoming life’s challenges,’ the direction is forced to wrap everything up into the generic emotional monologue.  Even as the story takes on a predictable beat with its characters, you can’t help but smile to how the Pullman family finds that happy ending.

The cinematography puts a basic look on everyday life in the 21st century.  The visuals of New York City don’t help or hinder the overall experience of the film.  It is just there to show a place for the story to be told.  The score is mute at best; not playing to any of the emotional or story beats in the film.

Wonder is a feel-good story that provides proof that an adaptation can give you an experience on-par to the source material.  With something stark and relevant for the audience, you will fall in love with the Pullman family.  If you’re a fan of these kinds of stories, this is one for you.  This is worth the full price, a good time for a family outing.

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