If there’s one movie to see this month, then it should be Wonder. The new adaption of the beloved book is smart, moving and who doesn’t love a movie about being kind?
We were invited to get a sneak peek of the movie at a special screening held in London last week. Not only did we get to watch Wonder, we also got to see a Q&A with the cast of the movie.
You know something is really cool when your 12-year-old is bouncing up and down squeaking, “It’s Julia Roberts! It’s Owen Wilson!” Although being Flea, she was probably EVEN more thrilled to hear from real-life, actual RJ Palacio, the author of Wonder.
If you haven’t read Wonder, it’s the story of 10 year old August (Auggie), a boy born with a facial disfigurement, or difference. As the story opens, home-educated Auggie is about to start middle school for the first time. We get to see how the family navigate this huge change. But also we see the impact Auggie’s arrival at school has on the people around him.
So what did we make of the movie?
In short – we loved it. It’s a heartwarming sob-fest with a gorgeous message at its heart. And it’s got that timeless feel that makes me think it’s going to become a classic. Someone asked me how often I cried watching Wonder – seriously, guys, it’d be easier to count how many scenes didn’t make me cry.
Our Six Top Reasons to go and see Wonder this Week:
The Kids: One of the brilliant things about Wonder is that the story isn’t just told from the perspective of Auggie. We also get to see how older sister Via sees life. The balance between loving her brother fiercely and resenting being overlooked so much of the time is beautifully portrayed. And I fell in love with Jack Will, the fallible best friend, and Summer, who reminds us that we all just need “friends who are nice for a change”.
Auggie: The unlikely hero of the story is an 11-year-old boy who looks very different to the other people he meets. And it’s heartbreaking, but you also see that being different isn’t all bad. Auggie is smart and brave, and able to laugh at the weird situations he finds himself in.
Julia Roberts: I thought the entire cast was great, but Julia Roberts as Auggie’s Mum Isabel was the heart of the film for me. She captures perfectly that desire that I think all parents have to be able to extend yourself everywhere and protect your child from the world – while understanding that you can’t, and probably shouldn’t. Are you a parent? Julia Roberts is going to make you cry a LOT in this movie.
Mr Browne: The movie’s narrative is built around a series of mottos that are drawn on the board by Auggie’s form teacher, Mr Browne. He’s the teacher you wish you had – kind and inspiring. Each term, he draws a new motto onto the board, beginning with the most important: “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind”.
Choose Kind: This basic quote is essentially the movie’s heart. It’s the idea that we should strike to be kinder than we need to be; that it’s good to be friendly, but it’s harder (and more important) to be a friend. Those are some good lessons to show our kids. Heck, they’re good lessons for us grown-ups, sometimes. I think Wonder should inspire lots of conversations with your young people.
Unkindness has a Reason: I think sometimes it’s all to easy to quote things like, “choose kind”. What Wonder does so well is to balance this with a story that shows us unkindness doesn’t come from nowhere. We see that school bully Julian has spectacularly awful parents. Via’s best friend ditches her, but there’s a reason behind that, too. Personally, I think it’s hugely important to remember that even the worst people behave the way they do for a reason.
Will you Cry at Wonder?
People have asked me if I cried watching Wonder. Honestly, probably easier to count up the time I wasn’t crying. It’s a very emotional film. If you have sensitive kids, there are some scenes they will find tough going, I think. But – without giving too much away if you haven’t read the book – Wonder builds to a satisfying, uplifting ending. And I think the overall message is such a good one, especially with the world the way it is in 2017.
Who doesn’t want there to be more kindness in the world?
Top 10 Books for 9 Year Olds
Flea chose Wonder as one of her top 10 books for 9 year olds: