Starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay, Wonder tells the inspiring story of Auggie Pullman, a young boy with facial differences who just wants to fit in. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, you’ll be a big, ol’ emotional mess by the time the end credits role. And here’s why…
It's a story about good feelings
Based on R.J. Palacio’s New York Times bestseller, Wonder sees 10-year-old August Pullman attending school for the first time. As if fifth grade on its own wasn’t daunting enough, Auggie (as he’s affectionately called by his devoted parents and sister) has a pronounced ‘craniofacial difference’, which makes him an obvious target for bullies.
And bully him they do, calling Auggie everything from ‘ugly’ and ’freak’ to ‘Freddy Krueger’. Encouraged by his mum, dad and sister, however, Auggie continues to show up at the school gate every day, where, faced with his huge heart and boundless kindness, his classmates slowly but surely begin to see past Auggie’s differences and accept him for who he is.
“We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness,” writes Palacio in her novel. And that’s what this film is all about: choosing kindness.
The story behind the film
Although it sounds like it could be, Wonder isn’t actually a true story. Rather it’s inspired by an experience writer R.J. Palacio had in an ice cream parlour many years ago. Seated next to a girl with a distinctive facial anomaly, Palacio’s three-year-old son became scared and, rather than stay to address the situation, the author quickly left the shop. It’s an event that’s haunted her ever since.
“I was really angry at myself for the way I had responded,” revealed Palacio in an interview with NPR around the time of the book’s launch. “What I should have done is simply turned to the little girl and started up a conversation and shown my kids that there was nothing to be afraid of… And that got me thinking a lot about what it must be like to have to face a world every day that doesn’t know how to face you back.”
The very same evening of the ice cream store incident, Palacio began writing Wonder and the book, which was first published in February 2012, has since sold more than five million copies around the world.
Jacob Tremblay as Auggie
Auggie is played in the film by 11-year-old Canadian Jacob Tremblay. This talented young actor got his big break starring as Blue in 2013’s CGI/live-action mash-up The Smurfs 2, but it was his jaw-dropping performance as Jack in 2015’s hard-hitting Room that had every director, producer and casting team in Hollywood sitting up and taking notice.
“When we saw Room we knew we’d found the boy who could take on Auggie,” Wonder’s producer David Hoberman reveals in the film’s production notes. “Jacob is gifted for his age and for any age. When we met him, we thought we couldn’t have sat with anyone who felt more like Auggie, with that same spirit.”
After watching this film, you won’t be able to imagine anyone who feels more like Auggie either. Tremblay is simply exceptional, tugging at your heartstrings without ever being maudlin. You’ll laugh and cry with him.
The sensational supporting cast
In addition to Tremblay’s exceptional turn as Auggie, Wonder also features superb performances from Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as his loving parents, Isabel and Nate Pullman.
Torn when it comes to the best interests of their son, all Isabel and Nate ultimately want is for Auggie to be happy. Seeing him suffer makes them suffer which is tough for us too as we’re rooting so hard for the whole family!
“Isabel is a really good mother, like a top five mother,” Jacob Tremblay says of his on-screen mom. “She makes Auggie feel better when he’s sad by using her mom powers, and explaining all the hard stuff to him. And Julia Roberts was such a good co-star. I learned so much from her.”
Don’t worry, we’re not going to tell you what happens, we’ll simply say that Wonder’s finale will have you feeling all the feels: think Pride, think Slumdog Millionaire, think Billy Elliot and Lion – yup, it’s that kind of movie and those kind of emotions.
The book inspired a ‘Choose Kind’ movement, in which strangers around the world shared their positive stories, and the film will undoubtedly provoke something similar. It’s a feel-good, lump-in-throat-inducing drama that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
So… are you ready to meet Auggie Pullman? You should be because he’s awesome and he just might change your mind about a few things!
Wonder weaves its magic in ODEON cinemas on 1 December! Book your tickets now for a very emotional experience!