Have you ever had this moment in your life where you think people are looking at you but they’re not? Sometimes I feel it when it’s not there but Auggie Pullman always feels this way. Who is Auggie Pullman, you ask? He is the central character in Wonder, a film about a child with a genetic deformity and what it’s like to walk in his shoes during his first year of Middle School.
With the story revolving mostly around children, you get an idea of what its like to be a child in our current day and age. How people change seemingly overnight, and how open and sometimes two-faced children can be.
Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson play Isabel and Nate Pullman, the parents of Auggie, who is played by Jacob Tremblay.
Auggie’s school, Beecher Prep is run by Mr. Tushman, played by Mandy Patinkin. And some of the children that Auggie go to school with are Jack Will, Julian Albans, Charlotte Cody, Summer Dawson, Amos Continu, Miles Noury, and Henry Joplin by Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Elle McKinnon, Millie Davis, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf, and James Hughes respectively. He also has a close relationship with his teachers Mr. Browne and Ms. Petosa, played by Daveed Diggs and Ali Liebert, respectively.
Isabel and Nate have one other child, Olivia, in their family. Oliva is played by Izabela Vidovic. With everything that was going on with her brother, she became closer to her grandmother, played by Sônia Braga. Her time at school is focused on her time in theater and her interactions with her best friend Miranda, played by Danielle Russell. She also develops a relationship with a boyfriend, Justin, played by Nadji Jeter.
The story is told in parts. These parts are sectioned off by the narrator of each section, Auggie, Olivia, Jack, and Miranda. While confusing at first, this is a good way to fill in the motivations and backstory of each character.
Within Auggie’s section, we see his outlook on life and how he goes about figuring people out. In Olivia’s, we see what her life is like living with her brother getting most of the parental attention. In Jack’s, we get an idea of what it’s like when someone actually gets to know Auggie. And in Miranda’s, we get her history with the family and what caused her to have her falling out with Olivia.
The story takes its time giving us character motivations and instead pulls us in with their interactions. We see how people change and just how self-centered and mean children can be to their peers. Within the school system itself, we see how the staff works not only to teach students but to keep them safe, as well. Mr. Browne is my favorite, not only protecting Auggie, but trying to get him to break out of his shell.
Outside of Auggie
While it is easy to just see this as a story about how Auggie lives with his deformity, there are other stories that intertwine with his. The biggest is how his sister handles all of it and struggles with feeling overshadowed by him and feeling alone. She just wants to be a teenager and spend time with her best friend and her budding romance. There is also Jacks story and how he comes to truly see who his friends are, and Miranda’s story of her coping with her newly divorced parents.
While this could just be a dull story about how kids can be mean to each other, it excels at the character connections. Auggie, of course, has the most connections and it’s how people see him that starts the story off. But when you add how all of the kids interact with each other, it adds depth. Olivia’s connections with her grandmother are touching, and Auggie’s and Olivia’s friends hold a lot of heart, as well. Without those connections, we would find it difficult to bond with these characters.
I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. It was a novel that my daughter had read and wanted to see so we made it a family night. I saw a lot of who I am within these characters. Be it the kids cheating on a test and trying not to get caught or the dad playing games with his son and not hearing his wife. Seeing the story behind Miranda’s change in character and her role in Auggie’s astronaut helmet put another layer on the story that I was already deeply engaged in.
And the conversation over the kids not understanding what a floppy disk was made me just feel old.
A movie that was a good family night together and one I think anyone can get into and find a character they can bond with. I can’t help but recommend this film not only to the family as a whole but to everyone inside it. This is definitely a film that I will be returning to in the near future.