Wonder | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


A sweet affirming tale about a fifth-grader facing challenges with aplomb


This will be the feel-good, take-the-whole-family pick of the Thanksgiving holiday, I reckon. It’s a sweet affirming tale that hits all the expected beats, without being too saccharine. Adapted from R.J. Palacio’s novel, this dramedy from director Stephen Chbosky (Perks of Being a Wallflower), follows one year in the life of Auggie (Jacon Tremblay, from Room), a funny, smart kid who is entering fifth grade. It’s not just that he’s been home-schooled by his caring mom (Julia Roberts); Auggie has severe facial deformities, and, well — fifth grade is brutal. 

It would be fair to call this film a mini-coming-of-age story, in that Auggie has to learn a lot of valuable lessons between September and June, including self-confidence, how to share, and managing friendships. But so does the rest of the family, which also includes his dad (Owen Wilson) and his caring but sort-of-sad sister (Izabela Vidovic). Wonder has a touch of the fabulous about it — everybody is going to want Julia Roberts as their perfect mom, and the family’s Brooklyn brownstone is to die for. But these elements work well with Chbosky’s light touch and Tremblay’s winsome performance. If it’s not 100 percent realistic, well, we could all use a little more glossy feel-good entertainment these days.