Wonder is one of those movies that's supposed to make you cry and feel good, but it lets you get there organically instead of being too heavy-handed.
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Summary: Based on the New York Times bestseller, Wonder tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.
It takes precisely one trailer to know what kind of movie Wonder is going to be. We see them every year, and they tend to either be good or they try to manipulate you into feeling certain emotions. The surprising thing about Wonder that a person who hasn't read the books might not know is that the movie isn't just about Auggie (Jacob Tremblay). We see various events from the movie take place from multiple points of view, including Auggie's older sister Via (Izabela Vidovic), whose story might be even sadder than Auggie's, and some of their various friends. They humanize everyone and don't put anyone into a box. The girl who you thought was a bully is actually having family problems. It goes out of its way to show that everyone has problems.
The multiple points of view also help tell a bunch of different stories and keeps the movie flowing and interesting. The coming-of-age genre is filled with movies that try to make you feel things. "YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SAD BECAUSE THIS IS SAD," some movies seem to say. A good movie, however, will just let the sad scene be sad because they are confident in their own abilities to convey emotion. It makes the movie feel much more organic and real in a way that these movies often don't. When a film feels real, it helps hammer home the emotions because the characters on screen are people we can relate to on some level.
It's not a perfect movie. The pacing is a little off and it makes a movie that is less than two hours feel long. Owen Wilson and Julia Roberts deliver the exact performances you would expect from the two of them at this point. Neither of them are quite on auto pilot, but it's close. This isn't a genre that's for everyone, and it's not likely to change anyone's mind if they aren't into the feel-good genre to begin with. There are some rumors about it being touted as an Oscar contender, but aside from adapted screenplay, the movie itself doesn't seem to go above and beyond.
Wonder doesn't use emotional manipulation to force the audience to feel anything. Instead, the filmmakers allow their cast and the story get there organically, and it makes all the difference in the world. While not enough to convert someone to this particular genre, Wonder does enough to stand out from the rest.