Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder is the incredibly moving, feel-good movie America needs right now. But it’s more than just the likable characters, sentimental storyline, or the smile glued to the audience’s faces throughout the film. Wonder offers a powerful message of kindness and acceptance that will promote unity and self-esteem in children for years to come.

We are introduced to 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, played by Jacob Tremblay, just as he enters school for the first time after being home-schooled by his somewhat overbearing mother, Isabel (Julia Roberts). You see, Auggie was born with a congenital facial deformity and through shots of numerous hospital bands and exposition of past surgeries, we get what Auggie’s life has been like up to this point. But Auggie is like any other “normal” little boy. He likes Star Wars and more than anything he wants to be seen as ordinary.

Now that Auggie is of age, his mother and father (Owen Wilson) think it’s time for him to start middle school with other kids, and like any new kid in middle school, Auggie’s journey has its ups and its downs. Eventually, Auggie does make friends while learning some valuable lessons about life. Our protagonist soon realizes that even though he needs to be tough and handle his own bullies and problems, others around him may have their own issues that they are dealing with internally as well.

Chboksy, who so poignantly brought us The Perks of Being a Wallflower, again offers viewers dynamic vantage points about growing up, as several characters get to tell a part of the story from their perspective. This is especially powerful with Auggie’s sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic).

Throughout the film, Via describes her home life using a metaphor for the solar system. Auggie is the sun in their family, while Via and her parents are like planets that all revolve around him. Even though Via sympathizes with her brother’s deformity and realizes that her worst day is nothing compared to what Auggie has gone through, she still seeks validation from her distracted parents, and on some level resents the lack of attention due to her brother’s struggle.

Chboksy brings R.J. Palacio’s bestseller to life and, in doing so, gives this generation its own version of Peter Bogdanvoich’s 1985 film Mask and just like before, it’s an instant timeless classic. Jacob Tremblay is heroic, but Julia Roberts is the leader of the pack who really tugs at our heartstrings.

It’s stories like Wonder that reminds us all of the beauty, simplicity, and significance of kindness. Some movie-goers may blow off Wonder as mawkish or too sentimental and that would be a mistake. Like Auggie says in the film, “Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life.” This film definitely deserves one.

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