Wonder-ful tearjerker for viewers
EVERYONE is the hero of their own story - even if they're the villain in others.
Never has this been more evident than in the family film Wonder.
Homeschooled by his academic mother, 10-year-old Auggie Pulman (Jacob Tremblay) is gifted at science and loves Star Wars - but wears a space helmet while outside to hide his severe facial deformity.
Auggie leads a happy, if isolated, life with his family in upper Manhattan until it's time for middle school - where he's finally forced to meet the world head on.
As you can probably guess, Wonder is an unabashed tearjerker, but fortunately it's a very well written and acted one.
Based on the book by RJ Palacio, the film has a strong cast, including Room star Tremblay (unrecognisable under make-up) as Auggie, as well as a-listers Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as his parents, Isabel and Nate.
Even Mandy Patinkin turns up as Auggie's school principal, Mr Tushman. (Who, yes, has heard all the jokes about his name.)
But what makes Wonder rise above similar films is the choice to branch out into the stories of other characters connected to Auggie.
The strongest of these side-stories involves Auggie's older sister Via (Izabela Vidovic), a high school freshman who sees her little brother as the centre of her parents' universe - leaving her cast to the side.
Aged just 16, Vidovic seems destined for big things based on the strength of her performance here.
Other strands involve Auggie's new friend Jack Will (Noah Jupe) and Via's former bestie Miranda. Both characters betray their friends for seemingly inexplicable reasons - but their reasons aren't that inexplicable when you hear their side of the story.
Yes, it's a bit sappy - and probably a bit emotionally manipulative - but Wonder really is a wonderful film for the whole family.
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic
Reviewer: Matthew Pearce
Verdict: Four stars