Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"The film has predictability sewn into its DNA"

If you have seen Mask, with Eric Stoltz and Cher, you have seen Wonder.

Actually, that's rubbish. Equating movies that have superficial similarities is lazy journalism. Each story has its own dynamic. The sentimental undercurrents may be the same, as well as the feeling of being sucked into an emotional whirlpool, but those tears on the pillow have been manipulated to sell tickets.

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Yipes! The cynic speaks. Get rid of him.

From the very start of Wonder you know where it's going. Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) suffers from a facial deformity. He looks weird. Always has. Which is why Mom (Julia Roberts) home schooled him until she stopped and he went to ordinary school.

Auggie likes to walk about with an astronaut's helmet on his head. Hides his face. Cool! But he has to take it off when he goes into fifth grade.

Any mother with a 10-year-old son who is different, whether bi-polar, autistic, deformed, disabled, the wrong colour, the wrong religion, the wrong anything will understand and empathise. It's about bullying. It's about sticking in there. It's about character and courage.

The film has predictability sewn into its DNA.

"You can learn a lot about people by their shoes," Auggie says.

Lift your head up, boy.

"School sucks. People change. Those are the rules," his elder sister Via says.

Auggie hates it, makes friends, hates it less. His headmaster (Mandy Patinkin) stands by him. He's one of those father figures, so understanding you wonder whether he's based on wishes or an actual real person.

The film has a narrative voiceover which can be a distraction, but isn't here, because it's not just Auggie's ("Not everything in the world is about you") but also Via's who has problems of her own. ("Mother has a great eye. I wish she would use it some day to look at me.").

Teenage is difficult at the best of times. Getting through it can be the toughest thing you do. Getting through it with a face like a surf scarred iguana is worse.

Roberts is strong. Owen Wilson, as Dad, is Owen Wilson. Tremblay does good. Isabela Vidovic, as Via, is memorable.

You think the subject will make you squirm. It does. Is that your fault or the director's for laying it on too thick?

Nice people will love this. Cynics and other insects won't.

Reviewed on: 23 Nov 2017
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Auggie has a facial deformity which means he looks odd and people stare and kids are cruel. He comes from a loving home. Will that help in the real world?
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Director: Stephen Chbosky

Writer: Stephen Chbosky, Steve Conrad, Jack Thorne, based on the novel by R.J. Palacio

Starring: Julia Roberts, Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Elle McKinnon, Mandy Patinkin, Daveed Diggs, Millie Davis, Gidget

Year: 2017

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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