It’s easy to live a snarky life. I see a lot of movies that are god-awful, and the world around us is also pretty god-awful, and without wanting to, I seem to have “This is stupid” on the tip of my tongue more often than not. So when a movie comes along that is good—legitimately, sincerely good, like flowers or soup or dogs—I find myself grasping at a way to describe it.
Wonder is that good movie. It’s about a little boy, Auggie (Room's Jacob Tremblay), and his mom (Julia Roberts), his dad (Owen Wilson), and his older sister (Izabela Vidovic). Auggie was born with a condition that makes him look different, so that's what Wonder focuses on—but it’s not really what this movie is. This is a portrait of a group of humans—grown-ups and kids, but mostly kids—who are whole, complicated people, who have opportunities to be selfish and opportunities to be kind. Wonder defaults to kindness in a manner that feels both totally inspiring and completely organic.
I spent the whole movie wondering (ha!) how an adaptation of a corny bestselling novel could turn out so non-corny and delightful. Then the director’s name flashed on screen: Stephen Chbosky. Chbosky most recently wrote the screenplay for Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast, but more importantly, he wrote The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and he was also responsible for that book's perfect movie adaptation. This man’s got a gift for creating things that makes us hardened adults develop a melancholic knot in our hearts that reminds us exactly how it felt to be a kid.
I don’t want to oversell this movie, because I’d like each and every one of you to be surprised by the myriad of way it can soften your scowl. So I’m gonna stop here, and go pet some dogs, and feel totally content.