Wonder made my mom cry. But it’s the kind of movie designed to make moms cry, so that’s not really saying much. The story of a fifth-grade boy with a severe facial deformity (Jacob Tremblay) going to school for the first time was bound to cause a few sniffles. To the film’s credit, it’s not so sickly sweet as to be unpalatable. It handles its young characters with a surprising amount of nuance. Stereotypes are largely avoided or are introduced and then subverted in some way. Nice kids aren’t always nice, and bullies can have hidden depths. Even Tremblay’s Auggie is given moments of complicated characterization, instead of just being a precocious tyke too precious for this world. The film also avoids some narrative cliches by chronicling a year. The story is loose which serves the film well, making the narrative more natural instead of building to some saccharine set piece destined to leave viewers riddled with cavities and diabetes.
The adult characters are much more thinly drawn, but still serviceable. Julia Roberts is fine as Auggie’s mother, and Owen Wilson certainly is there. Daveed Diggs is there, too. Hi, Daveed Diggs. Glad you could stop by and play a teacher for three scenes. Wonder is a movie made for the holidays. Parents, aunts and uncles, the kiddos, and even grandparents can all find some entertainment in the movie. Is it a brilliant film that sticks with you? No, but it could be a lot worse.
Cake Rating: Rice cakes—you really don’t want to risk consuming sugar after this.