|Directed by||:||Stephen Chbosky||Produced by||:||Michael Beugg, Dan Clark, David Hoberman||Based on||:||Wonder, by R.J.Palacio||Starring||:||Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Noah Jupe, Izabela Vidovic||Production company||:||Lionsgate, Mandeville Films, Participant Media, Walden Media||Country||:||United States|
Film review: Wonder
The wonder of Wonder is how smart it is – or indeed that it’s smart at all, given that it works in a genre that doesn’t need, or encourage, intelligence. When you’ve got a little boy (played by 11-year-old Jacob Tremblay) with a terribly disfigured face embarking on his first year of school after years of being homeschooled by his mum (Julia Roberts) and dad (Owen Wilson), all that matters is whether he’ll be bullied, how he’ll survive, and how often the audience can be made to click its tongue and exclaim ‘That poor little boy!’. Whether the dialogue is sharp, or the structure inventive, is frankly irrelevant.
Yet the dialogue is sharp in Wonder, and the structure is inventive; director Stephen Chbosky (who worked similar magic with slightly older characters five years ago in The Perks of Being a Wallflower) takes a simple message and frames it in a strikingly complex way. The message is the usual exhortation to be nice to people who are different, like little Auggie – but the usual unspoken rationale is that we should be nice because they’re different, whereas Wonder leans hard on the more humane flipside: because they’re the same.