Why everyone should see ‘Wonder’

I had a whole other blog post planned for today. I’m halfway through writing it and planned to finish it off after getting back from the cinema. It will have to wait because, right now, I am totally incapable of thinking about anything else other than this film.

Warning: minor spoilers

I’ll be honest, when I heard that they were adapting Wonder for the big screen, I wasn’t thrilled. For several reasons, I thought that this was a book that should have been left alone. It is one of my favourite books and I was worried that they wouldn’t do it justice. First impressions weren’t good either. I saw images online of Auggie that were totally different from what I had imagined. Discussing this with a friend, she agreed that the power of Wonder was not actually knowing for sure what he looked like. That’s the point: it doesn’t matter because we should look beyond physical appearances. For these reasons, I didn’t rush to the cinema when it was first released. However, I heard positive reviews so I thought that I should give it a chance. I’m so glad that I did.

Simply put, this film is perfection. In my opinion, it’s a masterpiece. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Everyone should see it. In fact, if there’s still time in your area, get your whole school to the cinema to watch it. Author R. J. Palacio famously stated that teaching empathy is difficult. Instead, we must inspire it. This film, just like the book, certainly inspires it.

I’ve read the book so I expected the film to have a similar emotional punch. However, I wasn’t expecting a two-hour emotional beating! I was holding back tears for the entirety of its runtime (often unsuccessfully). I felt physically drained by the end of it. It is by far the most emotional experience that I have ever had while watching a movie. There are high moments and low moments, and every one of them tugged at my heartstrings. This is one of my favourite films ever!

Everything that I loved about the book is captured perfectly. In particular, seeing the story from different viewpoints and learning how Auggie’s physical appearance affects everyone around him. This is a phenomenal story for exploring perspective with students. For me, Via’s story is equally powerful. She’s the older sister who has accepted that the family members are “planets orbitting the sun… not the daughter”.

I love how there’s a great kid beneath the facial disfigurement. Auggie is like any other young boy. He likes Star WarsMinecraft and burping. He’s hilarious! I want to be Auggie’s friend! Wonder teaches kids (and adults) to judge people based on their actions and their attitudes, not by the way they look. The character of Jack WIll demonstrates this perfectly, as he’s torn between Auggie and the bullying crowd, led by Julian. To the audience, the choice is an easy one. I hope that children watching it will connect this to their own peers and offer their friendship to those who deserve it.

The main bully of the story, Julian, is extremely unpleasant to Auggie. He’s the textbook definition of a bully. Children watching this will develop a deeper understanding of how their words and actions can affect others and how they can leave emotional scars. His concluding scene with Mr. Tushman (the Principal) and his parents was thought-provoking for me. As a teacher, it reminded me that kids aren’t bad to the core, even the ones who have been truly nasty and hurtful. Julian is clearly just a product of his environment who lacks positive role models at home. I loved how he showed remorse in that scene and, importantly, the Principal acknowledged this. Julian was later shown cheering for Auggie. All kids deserve another chance and the opportunity to learn from their behavioural mistakes. Who are the ‘Julians’ in your school?

Every student should watch this film. Every teacher should. In fact, everybody should. It’s that good! Moreover, it’s that important! Wonder reminds us that small, seemingly insignificant comments can cause huge upset. It explores how even our wordless actions, such as looking away or staring, can deeply impact someone with physical insecurities. This film encourages everyone to be kinder, more respectful, and more empathetic. Most of all, Wonder reminds us all that everyone, not just Auggie, is battling their own demons and that we should therefore always, always, always #ChooseKind. In conclusion, I’m absolutely thrilled that this has been made into a movie because it allows these important messages to reach more and more kids.

“If you have a choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.”

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Have you seen Wonder yet? What did you think? More to the point, how long did your dry eyes last? Please leave your comments below. What can students learn from it and how else can we inspire empathy and kindness?


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17 comments

  1. I have not read or seen the movie and now I will seek it out.
    Is there an age limit as in how young can a child be to watch this . It sounds so emotional and it sounds like it deals with social learning. Is there an age appropriateness to this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jamee,

      Good question! According to IMDb, it’s certified PG (parental guidance) in the UK. I’m not sure about rating systems in other countries. I think this means that you’ll need parental permission before you show it to kids in school, although I’m not entirely sure about this. Ask your Head if in doubt. It’s an emotional ride, but there’s nothing else that should raise concern. I’d definitely encourage kids to watch it (and read the book, obviously).

      Best,

      Adam

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I meant to read the book forever but when the movie was out I couldn’t resist! I first watched it alone and then I watched it with my three daughters. I felt it was a movie they shouldn’t miss. I was right! The movie has stayed with them for weeks and we still talk about it when something reminds us of it. I would like to use it for my students as well, so I plan to prepare one or more lesson plans based on it. Your review was spot on! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi aggiekesler,

      Thank you for your comment. Like I said, this post wasn’t my intention. I was just so moved that I simply had to rush home, write about it and encourage others to watch it. I put no planning into it whatsoever. I just wanted to share my thoughts. I’m glad that you could relate to it.

      Best,

      Adam

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great blog Mr Hill and your words remind me of what a young inspirational Mr Brown would say!!! For the first couple of minutes of the film it really touched me for obvious reasons.

    I didn’t read the book (too busy with the boys) but donna did and I didn’t realise how Auggie’s world would be viewed from each characters perspective. This was excellent to show words and actions have consequences.
    Thank you for reading, thank you for watching and more over thank you for been you !

    Like

    1. Hi John,

      You can obviously relate to this book/movie and I’m sure that you could make a lot of connections to your own family (not just Lewis). I hope that Wonder gives you some comfort and reassurance that the world is full of good, kind people, young and old, who will appreciate and respect Lewis for the wonderful boy that he is. Like I said in another comment, kind people far outnumber bullies. It seems to me that you and Donna are doing all of the right things to look after both Lewis’ and Hayden’s well-being. A truly inspirational family! Just like August, Lewis is a gift that needed a very special family. He got one.

      Thanks for the kind words. I hope you’ll be around for a beer (or a bike ride) over Christmas.

      Best,

      Adam

      Like

  4. I loved the book. And the follow-up book. And although am excited to see the movie, I’m also nervous, and your comment “I wasn’t expecting a two-hour emotional beating!” terrifies me.

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    1. Hi Tima,

      My face hurt by the end of it, after two hours of holding back emotions! Steph and I both agreed not to talk for a while afterwards. We needed time to recover from this emotional beating. I was not prepared!

      Brace yourself!

      Adam

      Like

  5. Appreciate how you have sounded the movie like a real life connect with everyone who has been a child and is working with children…my heart goes out to Jack will n Julian too apart from Via n Auggie….the story is courageous…. thanks for sharing your thoughts

    Like

    1. Hi Aditi,

      Throughout the movie, I was constantly making connections to real kids/situations. I think that’s why it probably hit so hard! Everyone has their own problems going on and the film highlighted this well. So important to be kind!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Adam

      Like

  6. I saw the film yesterday after reading the book. I have spent most of my adult life working with children with disabilities; seeing day to day the effect of their disability on the people around them. The book and film powerfully captures this particularly when giving Via and Jack Wils perspective. It also is a powerful tool for showing everyone how our actions affect others. Julian is brilliantly depicted as a bully who is shown to develop a character concience from the role models around him, peers and teachers. I applaud how Summer and Jack Wil show the bravery to move away from the crowd and offer a hand of friendship to August. It is a must see for all!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Nicky,

      I totally agree. I hope that children watching this will be inspired to be like Jack and Summer. I’m a great believer that lovely, great kids far outnumber bullies. I loved it when Auggie warned Summer that she would catch ‘the plague’ by being with him and she simply replied, “Good!”

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Best,

      Adam

      Like

  7. Adam – Fantastic enthused blog. I have neither read the book nor have I seen the film – in fact to be entirely honest it has totally escaped my radar. However you have inspired me to seek it out. I am looking forward to the experience. Thank you for sharing.
    All the best
    Claire

    Like

    1. Hi Claire,

      I’m really pleased to hear that. I encourage you to read the book first, if there’s still time. I’m not sure how much longer the film will be out at the cinema. Let me know your thoughts. I already know that you’ll love it as much as I do!

      If we don’t chat before, have a lovely Christmas!

      Adam

      Like

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