Film Review: Wonder

Based on the New York Times bestseller by R.J. Palacio, the Academy Award and BAFTA nominated Wonder tells the inspiring and heart-warming story of August “Auggie” Pullman. Born with facial differences that, up until now, have prevented him from going to mainstream school, Auggie becomes the most unlikely of heroes when he enters the fifth grade at his local school. As his family, new classmates, and the larger community all struggle to find their compassion and acceptance, Auggie’s extraordinary journey will unite them all and prove you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

The first day of school is a nerve-wracking experience both children and their parents, but for Auggie and his parents, it’s a whole new world of emotion. Auggie was born with a facial differences. Brought up by his parents alongside his older sister, Olivia, Auggie is about to embark on his journey into middle school.

His mother, Isabel, played by Julia Roberts, wants Augie to go to school and make friend. However, his dad, Nate, played by Owen Wilson, isn’t so sure, but after taking him into school to meet the teacher and some of the children, Auggie decides for himself that he would like to go to school.

Before he starts school, Auggie is shown around by three pupils, Jack, Charlotte and Julian. Julian is a bit rude & asks if Auggie was in a car crash or fire. We soon learn that Julian turns out to be a bit of a bully, but is someone else feeling his way of thinking?

When Auggie shows an interest in science, Julian pipes up and says that science is supposedly hard. Undeterred by his first encounter of bullying , Auggie puts Julian in his place and suggests perhaps his mum should homeschool him too.

From this moment on, it’s clear that Auggie is a very intelligent child who has been raised well by his family, who obviously adore and love him. 

On his first day of school, his parents nervously wave him goodbye from the school gates. As Auggie makes his way through the crowd full of children, he’s more than aware of the stares and sideward glances he’s getting. 

Out of his comfort zone, without his astronaut helmet to hide his face, it’s time for Auggie to board the rollercoaster of emotion that is his first day of school.

As Auggie walks down the corridor to his first lesson he says that he can’t wait for halloween. This is because it’s the only time of year that he feels normal because he can dress up, wear a mask to hide his face and join in with trick or treating.

Thankfully, when Auggie goes into his classroom, two of the three children, Jack and Charlotte, who initially showed him around school are there to welcome Auggie.

During his first day of school, Auggie, learns a lot. Julian continues to pick on him and call him names, but Auggie does well to ignore them. 

However, when he gets home Auggie bursts into his sisters bedroom, and cuts of a long braid from his hair because Julian made fun of it.

Later that day, Auggie’s mum finds Auggie upset. He calls himself ugly and says that the other children don’t talk to him. His mum does well to be honest with Auggie, and reassure him that no one is perfect. We all have flaws and that’s ok, it’s never ugly. 

Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play the parts of the parents exceptionally well. Their portrayal of the feelings that Auggie’s parent are going through is both emotional and heartwarming. They question whether sending Auggie to school is the right thing to do. 

Auggie’s sister, Olivia, loves her brother, and wants nothing more than for him to be happy. Olivia has never asked for help from her parents with homework etc. It’s clear to her that Auggie is their main focus, and she’s accepted that, but it seems Olivia has her own problems when it comes to making friends too.

Her friend from kindergarten, Miranda, has turned her back on Olivia and decided she no longer wants to be friends. When Olivia meets Justin, who says he’s an only child, Olivia also says that she is too, hoping that common ground will cement her relationship with Justin. Olivia doesn’t want to burden her parents with her own problems when they already have so much on their plates with Auggie. 

Throughout the film we follow Auggie and his family. We learn that Auggie’s mum longed to write a thesis and be a book illustrator, but her dreams were put on hold when Auggie was born, and now she lives for him. She stopped writing, but continues to draw and makes Auggie the centre of all of her pictures. This makes Olivia feel left out, but throughout all of this, Olivia is nothing but supportive of her family.

Through Auggie’s School journey it’s clear that Auggie is just like any other child of his age. He lets his friend, Jack, copy off him during a test, and that leads to Jack sitting with Auggie for lunch so that Auggie doesn’t have to sit alone. Auggie offers to help Jack with his school work, whilst Jack helps Auggie to feel normal. Auggie says he doesn’t like eating in front of people, so Jack eats really noisily and messily to help Auggie feel better!

When Auggie meets his mum after school one day and asks if Jack can come over for tea, his mum has to be strong not to cry! She’s overwhelmed that he’s made a friend, and is feeling more at ease with Auggie going to school. 

With her mind at ease, Auggie and Olivia’s mum focuses more on Olivia. It soon becomes clear that Olivia misses her grandmother, who sadly passed away, so her mum lets Olivia have the following day, which happens to be halloween, off school so they can spend time together. 

Auggie goes to school as on Halloween dressed in a costume, complete with mask. When he enters his classroom, he overhears Jack telling some classmates that he only hangs out with him because the teacher made him show around on the first day and ever since Auggie just follows him around.

Not knowing that Auggie heard everything that Jack said, Auggie understandably is upset by Jacks hurtful comments.

I don’t think Jack meant to be hurtful. I think Jack just got caught up in peer pressure from his classmates to say what he did. 

Auggie walks away and proceeds to be sick, ending his mums day with Olivia, as she goes to pick Auggie up. Olivia is now left alone at home, once again feeling left out.

This film demonstrates just how much of a balancing act being a parent is.

Olivia does her best to reassure Auggie that he’s not the only one to have problems with friends, and explains to him about Miranda never going around anymore because people change.

The following day in school Jack attempts to talk to Auggie, but Auggie shows no interest, leaving Jack confused.

In this part of the film we cut across to Jack’s story and go back to the first day where Jack met Auggie. Jacks mum asks Jack to show Auggie around school because the teacher said he’s a good pupil for the job. When Jack finds out about Auggie and his facial differences, he agrees to show him around. 

Jack goes on to say that he does want to be friends with Auggie, even if at first he only agreed to speak to him for his mum. Jack says he’d chose Auggie to hang out with over other pupils. 

Jack tries to make amends with Auggie, but it’s clear Auggie is still upset. This is when Auggie meets Summer. Seeing Jack sitting alone at lunchtime, Summer goes over to Auggie to make friends with him. Summer and Auggie soon become good friends, and she asks what happened with Jack, so he tells her. 

Going back to her Auggies sister, Olivia, things soon start to get serious between her and Justin. With their relationship becoming more than just friends Olivia decides to confess that she’s not an only child. She then brings Justin home to meet her family. Justin treats Auggie as a normal child. It soon becomes clear that the reason Olivia said she was an only child was to protect her brother. 

Noticing Olivia and Justin together one day, Miranda, that’s Olivia’s former friend from kindergarten, calls Auggie to say that she misses him and Olivia. 

We then learn more about Miranda. Specifically that she and Olivia become friends when they met at kindergarten and that she sees Auggie as a little brother. 

We learnt that Miranda’s parents split up. Her dad spends more time with his new wife, and her mum is still trying to get over the breakup. 

Miranda got a summer job to be away from her family and told her new friends that she lived in a big house with her family, including brother who has a facial deformity. Of course, this isn’t true, but Miranda feels that by telling everyone she’s Olivia, she’ll gain friends.

It becomes clear that the reason Miranda stopped talking to Olivia is because she was jealous of her happy home life. Two parents together, brother, etc. Something that Miranda longed for since her parents split up.

Miranda was too embarrassed to tell Olivia that she was jealous so she decided not to speak to her anymore. We also discover that Miranda was the one who bought Auggie his astronaut helmet that he wears almost every day because she wanted him to see that the world is bigger than just his home. 

With Christmas approaching, Isabel, Auggie and Olivia’s mum, rekindles her love of writing and starts to write her thesis. 

Jack starts to miss Auggie so he asks Summer why Auggie doesn’t speak to him anymore. When Jack discovers that Auggie overheard him making fun of him at Halloween, he feels terrible and is desperate to make amends. 

When teamed up with Auggie for a science project, Jack seeks his opportunity to make things right. Over a game of minecraft, Jack apologies for what he said, and the two quickly become friends again, and set to work on their science project. 

Meanwhile, Miranda, is chosen as a lead in the School play, while Olivia is her understudy. 

On the night of the play, Miranda learns that Olivia’s family is in the audience so she pretends to be unwell in order for Olivia to be cast as the main role alongside Olivia’s boyfriend, Justin.

Olivia takes centre stage whilst her family watch from the audience, and Miranda from the side of the stage. 

After the play, Miranda goes back to Olivia’s house and they become friends once more.

Back to Jack and Auggie’s science project, together they build a camera obscurer and win first prize.

Julian (remember him, he’s the bully), is jealous of Auggie and his new friends, so he starts up his bullying campaign again. Julian is pulled up in front of the head teacher with his parents. Julian’s mum is in denial about her son being the bully and admits that she photoshopped Auggie out of a school photo, and says that Auggie shouldn’t be in the school as the other children are too young to understand Auggie’s facial differences.

The headteacher, fully on Auggie’s side, says that Auggie can’t change his looks, so maybe we should change the way we look at others. Undeterred, Julian’s parents pull him out of the school, but before they do, Julian realises the errors of his way and apologies to the headteacher. He’s suspended for two days meaning he’ll miss the end of year school trip to a nature reserve. 

During a movie screening whilst on the school trip. Jack and Auggie go for a walk where they encounter some older children. They start to call Auggie names and start to fight with Jack. Thankfully, three of Auggie and Jack’s classmates had followed them out and rose to Auggie’s defence. 

Auggie starts to get upset, but with his new friends by his side, it’s obvious that they think the world of Auggie. 

Toward the end of the film Auggie thanks his mum for letting and encouraging him to go to school. 

The film ends with the headteacher awarding Auggie a medal for his courage and strength, for being himself.

Wonder is a really, feel good film, that will move you to tears. Outstanding your actor, Jacob Tremblay, superbly anchors an A-list cast that boasts Academy Award winner Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, under the direction of Stephen Chbosky. 

Wonder is this year’s stand out family film release, and a classic in the making.

18 thoughts on “Film Review: Wonder

  1. Hi, I have been waiting for this movie to come out on Sky movies. Your review makes me want to watch it this weekend #thatfridaylinky

  2. This sounds like a wonderful movie, I have to be in the right mood for this type of genre – I could get too emotional! But I think my son would really like to sit with me and watch this too, brilliantly written #thatfridaylinky

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *