* * * ½
(Feel-good tale of young boy)
Jacob Tremblay plays young Augie, a boy born disfigured to loving parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson).
Augie has had 27 surgeries on his face and still looks quite different from your average fifth grader. He has been home-schooled, but his parents feel it is time for him to enter a regular school and assimilate with other children.
Augie is a smart and funny young man but is also very aware of the effect that his face has on other people. He wears an astronaut's helmet when he goes out, but courageously removes it for his first day at school. As expected, the reaction of the other students is avoidance, staring and, in some cases, bullying. He sits alone in the school cafeteria and has no friends until he allows the boy next to him to copy his test answers. (Bad example for the kids in the audience). Augie then has a new friend and things are going well until he hears his friend talking about him to other students, causing a setback into his "coming out.”
"Wonder" is based on a novel and not a true story and is manipulative at times, setting up situations for Augie to win over the other students and be recognized for who he is and what is inside of him. Except for the cheating incident, it gets the message across about not judging a book by its cover.
Trembly is terrific as Augie, capturing your heart from the very beginning. But the movie isn't just about him. It often zeroes in on his older sister (Izabela Vidovic), who loves him dearly, but often gets overlooked as their parents dote on his needs. We also see the sacrifices that parents need to make for special needs children.
While "Wonder" is a bit oversentimental, it will still tug at your heartstrings.
Rated PG, and a good movie to share with your children.