Director and co-writer Stephen Chbosky’s previous directorial effort, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, of which he adapted his own book, has slowly become one of the definite modern day teen movies. It was a critical success upon initial release. Ever since then, it seems to have become a rite of passage as adolescents progress into their teenage years. “Have you seen Perks of Being a Wallflower yet?” they ask. It’s fair. The film is great. I recently watched it with my younger sister, who hadn’t seen it before (henceforth passing through the rite of passage), and it still made me cry.
It’s no surprise to say that this film is emotional. You may not necessarily cry, I’m a frequent movie crier yet I found the whole thing all to predictable to burst into tears, but the emotion is strong and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get watery eyed at least five times. The film feels almost as if it were made purely to get you crying, so in that regard there’s certain sequences in the third act that do feel manipulative. One moment in particular involving a character in need of help feels totally irrelevant and solely to up the overall emotion present throughout, despite the film certainly not needing to.
Chbosky’s direction is fine, the cinematography is kind of bland, but it’s the script and the performances that stand out, taking a somewhat different but very welcomed turn in comparison to what was expected when it comes to this movie. Its narrative takes turns in going through and exploring the lives of different characters, all while relating it back to Auggie’s story. It’s never cheap, nor a cop out. They do it to show the effect Auggie has on those around him, creating a unique and eye-opening narrative where even the antagonists are given humanity at some point.
You’d have to try real hard not to like this movie. It’s a supremely moving and hilarious tale of a young boy just looking to fit in, forced to accept the fact that he was born to stand out. Every cast member works well, and heck, they even made an entire sequence set in the world of Minecraft interesting. Plus, y’know, it always helps when a movie has a Star Wars reference every ten minutes, making Wonder truly wonderful.
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