… if there will be a more realistic sequel

W ell here’s a film that tests white male privilege. What if, as a white male, you were so deformed that automatic privilege didn’t necessarily apply in social situations? In that case, is white male privilege still a thing? Yes. Yes, it is. But at least the argument makes more sense. I won’t belabor the point –however, until you get to part where your guilt is assumed merely by your non-circumstantial appearance, white male privilege remains a thing.

It’s hard not to feel for Auggie (Jacob Tremblay). I mean, “Auggie,” c’mon, people. I dunno where you get off naming a kid “August,” but couldn’t you at least call him “Gus?” That name used to be acceptable. And if Auggie can get past the first hurdle, there’s the small part where the undersized 12-year-old has a face like a sagging pizza. And his parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) have decided to start his non-home school education with middle school. Geez, and I thought kids were cruel.

I looked up Auggie’s condition as I didn’t get it from the movie. It’s Treacher Collins syndrome, a genetic anomaly which manifests itself in severe facial distortion and a cavalcade of potential health problems. In this version, Auggie has survived 27 surgeries and, quite frankly, looks Ok for a kid who has taken a scalpel to the face more often than Mr. Boddy in a frequently used Clue game. Still, no one can blame the kid for wanting to wear an astronaut helmet in class. Middle school ain’t a picnic even you’re destined to be Tom Brady; throwing somebody to the wolves who looks like he has literally already been thrown to the wolves is a form of torture not recognized by the Geneva Convention.

We root for Auggie. How could you not? His life is difficult enough without people in his corner. Being home schooled, he’s obviously smarter than his peers. Yeah, that’s not gonna help you win friends any more than pizza face. And yet, Wonder is smarter than a straight, “How’s he gonna manage?” picture. Wonder sets us up with Auggie and then purposefully explores the lives around him including those of his sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic), Auggie’s newest friend, Jack Will (Noah Jupe), mom, and a few others. Their worlds revolve around Auggie, as they should, yet a lesser film wouldn’t evaluate the toll taken on the people in Auggie’s life. The result is that Wonder is something of an empathy gauntlet – oh, yes, I get your point, too, and it saddens me. Ditto, you. Ditto, you. Is this going to stop? No, apparently it isn’t. This is a movie that loved 98% of its characters. That’s rare, especially in an entertaining film. The drawback is it’s a Wonder I got through this film. If you’re crier like me, there will be tears, multiple times … often for the mundane just because it’s mundane.

Wonder is the kind of film in which place yourself not in the shoes of the kid with the obvious issues, but instead in the shoes of his sister, mother, father, or friend. How would you deal if a significant portion of your life was devoted to making sure this poor kid has a normal life? Would you wreck your own “normal” life to ensure it … or even pieces of it? Wonder is such a well-meaning film, you can’t help but love it for all its flaws. Yet, flaws there are to be sure. I must have counted a half-dozen times in Act III a place where I said, “Yes, that’s what I wanted to happen, but it wouldn’t happen that way in real life.” And if you have enough of those, you realize the film has eclipsed the realm of our world and attached itself to a wayward comet where everything looks like Earth, but it’s run by teddy bears and unicorns. If I’m being honest, sometimes that’s exactly what I want in a film.

Auggie, just a kid down the hall
Who decided to give school a call
Always remember
The rule of September:
After August, there comes the fall

Rated PG, 113 Minutes
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Writer: Stephen Chbosky and Steve Conrad and Jack Thorne
Genre: Fantasy, in the strictest sense of the word
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: Treacher Collins survivors
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: Bullies

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One Response to “Wonder” Subscribe

  1. Jane Austen November 23, 2017 at 7:22 am #

    It’s a stellar kids’ novel. I’m glad some of the moral complexity and ambiguity came through.

    What’s the “song” based on?

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