Wonder one for families

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REVIEW

Wonder

Stars: 3.0 out of five stars

Starring Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Mandy Patinkin, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf, James Hughes, Millie Davis, Elle McKinnon, Daveed Diggs, and Julia Roberts

Written by Stephen Chbosky, Steve Conrad, and Jack Thorne

Directed by Stephen Chbosky

Rated: PG for profanity and bullying

Runtime: 113 minutes

Wonder screens on Monday, May 14 at 7 p.m. at the Arden Theatre as part of the St. Albert Public Library’s Reel Mondays fundraiser. All proceeds go towards producing the St. Albert Readers’ Festival, also known as STARFest.

Tickets are $20 for each screening or $65 for a season ticket for all five movies. They can be purchased at the customer service desk at the library. Call 780-459-1530 or visit www.sapl.ca for more information.

Small confession: I am not a fan of Julia Roberts. I won’t go into details about the extent of my dislike but suffice it to say that it was enough to make me hesitate watching Wonder. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she is only a side character here. The real star of the show is 11-year-old Jacob Tremblay, and he is fantastic.

Tremblay plays August ‘Auggie’ Pullman, a fifth-grader who is being home-schooled by his mom Isabel (Roberts) because of a congenital facial deformity for which he has been the subject of numerous surgeries. Because of all that, he prefers to wear an astronaut’s helmet so people don’t stare at him.

But one day, Isabel and Nate (Owen Wilson) realize that Auggie is losing out on socializing with other kids. They prepare to send him to a private middle school, which does not go well. Kids can be cruel so he gets teased and bullied and ostracized. We follow Auggie along through his entire school year with all of the trials, tribulations and triumphs that come along with it. Without giving too much away, the film ends on a very upbeat note.

Now listen, I’m a sucker for sentimental films at times but when I get the sense that the film is being scientifically designed to provoke moments of tears being jerked or hearts being warmed then my inner cynic kicks into gear. Sure, I’ve seen many movies like this before. It’s true that I don’t often return to watch them again.

None of that precludes the fact that there is a lot of good to be said about them. Take Wonder, for example. We all know that bullying hurts the bullied but the movie goes beyond that. It offers more than a few life lessons in being kind to others and leading others through your actions, not your instructions. These are all valuable reminders of the scope of human generosity and the limitless potential for people to change and become better as individuals and as friends. I only fear that this movie will garner an audience of mostly adults when there is much of benefit for kids too. Bring your sons and daughters if you can. There will be lots to talk about after.

Wonder is a better movie than I thought that it was going to be. I give full credit for this to the child actors here, especially star Tremblay who practically carries it over the entire two hours. Not only that but he’s done up in what looks like pretty comprehensive facial prosthetics, which I expect is especially difficult. He’s definitely got a lot of talent and expressiveness to share with the world through his acting.

This will be the final screening of the five movies on Reel Mondays’ spring schedule, but organizers with The Friends of the Library have signed up to host a bonus screening of the movie The Sun at Midnight next month. It plays on Monday, June 25. Tickets are $15 ($10 for children).

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About Author

Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.