‘Wonder’ evokes many feel-good emotions in time for the holidays

This image released by Lionsgate shows Jacob Tremblay, right, and Julia Roberts in a scene from "Wonder." (Dale Robinette/Lionsgate via AP)

This image released by Lionsgate shows Jacob Tremblay, right, and Julia Roberts in a scene from "Wonder." (Dale Robinette/Lionsgate via AP)

When RJ Palacio’s best-selling novel “Wonder” was published in 2012, it introduced the quote “If you have a choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” This heart-warming message is now brought to life through the film. “Wonder” is an inspiring feel-good story for all ages, reminding us that through kindness we can make a big difference.

Starring Jacob Tremblay as Auggie Pullman, a boy with severe facial birth defects, “Wonder” sheds light on how difficult it can be to grow up when you’re “different.” It becomes apparent pretty quickly that despite his outside appearance, Auggie is just like any other boy. He loves space and Star Wars, and is extremely intelligent. The film proves that it’s not what’s on the outside, but the inside that matters. Kids that are more “normal” looking prove to be much more ugly on the inside, while Auggie shines bright.

The film follows Auggie’s first year in public school after being homeschooled up to middle school. Auggie’s parents, played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, worry about their son but know it is time for him to begin school. Their love and support is what helps him get through his first few months as he deals with bullying and the betrayal of one of his only friends.

Through the support and encouragement from his parents, his sister, his friends Jack and Summer and his teacher, Auggie is able to not only survive but excel during his first year of middle school. For the first time in his life, Auggie is able to experience the same things as his peers, such as school field trips or science experiments.

The film not only takes Auggie’s point of view, but several other characters are also given the spotlight, such as his older sister Via or his friends Summer and Jack. These main character switches were interesting not only because they offer a different perspective on Auggie’s life, but because they show how one boy can impact so many hearts.

Tremblay, especially as such a young actor, does an incredible job at portraying Auggie. He flawlessly portrays all of the hurt and fearfulness that any child with severe defects would feel as they started school. Roberts and Wilson also do an amazing job at bringing so much raw emotion into the movie, as well as so much love. The Pullman’s feel just like a real family throughout the entire film.

“Wonder” is extremely rich of important lessons. Viewers have a lot they can learn from Auggie Pullman, whose strength and resilience is so admirable. Instead of dropping out of school or letting his differences get the best of him, he persevered and excelled. Not only did he persevere, but he was able to rise up against the bullying and was always the bigger person. He treated all people with kindness and respect, which is a valuable lesson for people, especially in today’s world.

Directed by Stephen Chbosky, “Wonder” has already made over $70 million in the box office and has mostly positive critical reception. It has a 86 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “A drama of disarmingly level-headed empathy that glides along with wit, assurance, and grace, and has something touching and resonant to say about the current climate of American bullying,” Variety magazine wrote in one review.

While it can seem easy to succumb to all of the darkness in the world, choosing to do the right thing can impact a person’s life forever. “Wonder” serves as a beautiful example of this.


Melissa Scrivani is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at melissa.scrivani@uconn.edu.