I was able to catch an advanced screening of the new WONDER movie, and I thought it would be helpful to share a Wonder movie parent’s review. If you’re considering taking your family to see the WONDER movie, read on for a brief synopsis of the plot and answers to questions like, “Is the Wonder movie sad?” or too scary, boring, etc. Plus I’ll do my best to help you decide what ages the WONDER movie is appropriate for.
Wonder Movie Parent’s Review & Synopsis
It’s hard not to love everything about the new WONDER movie starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay, that opens in theaters today. Based on the New York Times bestseller by R.J. Palacio, you might have heard of the book WONDER which tells the brilliant story of August Pullman, whose birth defects and multiple surgeries have kept him out of school — until now. In both the book and the movie, we get to follow Auggie as he enters the local fifth grade, surrendering the solace he once found inside a space helmet. Suddenly he must face a whole universe of gawking kids who don’t yet know how to face him back.
Auggie feels just like an ordinary kid — he loves Star Wars, Minecraft and riding his bike. In fact he’d like nothing more than to be an ordinary 10 year old. Yet as his sister keeps telling him, “You can’t be ordinary when you were born to stand out.”
We carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness.
-R.J. Palacio, Wonder
Families of those with craniofacial differences, like Auggie’s, often explain that they no longer see the deformities. What I loved best in following Auggie’s journey, was watching the transformation as Auggie’s new friends and classmates begin to truly SEE him. Some of the kids are able to quickly look past the outward appearance, while it takes others much longer to come around. Along the way we gain a powerful perspective on human nature and struggles.
While the story could have easily been told only from Auggie’s perspective, author R.J. Palacio skillfully weaved in the perspectives of not just Auggie, but also his sister and several friends, reinforcing the reality that EVERYONE is fighting a hard battle. Each is different, but it’s such an incredible reminder of how important it is just to be nice to one another.
Wonder-Inspired Printables For Teachers & Book Clubs
In addition to writing a Wonder movie Parent’s review, I couldn’t help creating a free printable WONDER banner to support the #ChooseKind movement, inspired by the novel. I intended to just make the banner, but once I started designing, I got carried away and ended up making a whole free printable Wonder pack!
Just fill out the form at the end of this post to instantly download the free printables I created. They would be great for a WONDER book club, and I know many teacher’s are reading WONDER in their classrooms. There is also a simpler, picture book version called We’re All Wonders, perfect for younger kids.
I created this free Wonder Class Pack with Wonder Book printable quotes as well as writing exercises inspired by the Wonder books. The Wonder and #ChooseKind tags can be used as bookmarks or gift tags. You know I love Project Life, and I made a WONDER-inspired 3×4 journaling card and 3×4 and 4×6 decorative cards.
Is The Wonder Movie Sad?
While you probably won’t be able to make it five minutes into the movie without crying, you also won’t leave sad. The Wonder Movie could have been very sad, but the Pullman family is incredibly endearing because despite all their trials, they are not sad.
“They’re joyful people making the most of what they’ve been dealt,” Palacio reflects. “That’s how real families are.”
The tone of Palacio’s book is one of cheerfulness despite challenges, which is refreshing and uplifting. Gratefully the actors and director did a phenomenal job of carrying this inspirational tone into the Wonder movie. The WONDER film, even with its dramatic weight, borders on being a comedy despite the fact that there won’t be a dry eye in the theater.
You probably won’t make it 5 minutes into the movie without crying; you also won’t leave sad.
Is Wonder The Movie Scary?
It’s somewhat difficult to decide whether or not the WONDER movie is scary because the core of this story is the human reaction to seeing a person with craniofacial differences. For some, especially younger children, there could be an element of fear resulting from the shock or surprise, and children may need parental guidance. I recommend watching the WONDER movie trailer below, ahead of time with your kids and then have a discussion that will prepare them to enjoy the movie.
As an adult, there is absolutely nothing frightening in the film, besides perhaps being faced with an ugly aspect of human nature. Unfortunately when Auggie goes to school, he has to deal with ridicule and bullying. There are a couple of scenes where children end up fighting. These scenes are fairly intense, but I don’t think they would frighten a child who is otherwise old enough to sit through the film.
Is the Wonder Movie OK For Kids?
Which leads me to the next main question… what ages is the WONDER movie good for? I was struggling a bit with this answer as well. I considered my four and six year olds, and whether I thought they would enjoy the movie. Being more of a drama, I can see the potential that it could be boring to a younger viewer, but since the story centers on kids in a school environment, I think it is more engaging for even younger kids. The movie’s message couldn’t be better, so I think this is arguably a very good family movie.
If all your kids are on the younger end (under age 6-7) though, you might not want to watch this one in the theater. For families with older kiddos who are just worried if the younger one (age 4+) will be OK, I think I’d take them.
My friend had a great suggestion for gauging if a child is old enough to sit through a movie. Find a long trailer for the film (see above for the WONDER trailer), and ask your child to sit and watch it. Pay attention to how they react — if they become fidgety and distracted during the trailer you probably have your answer.
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About the author
Bettijo is the founder and designer of Paging Supermom where she shares what she's dreamed up for family fun. Known for practical and kid-friendly activities, free printables and simple ideas for holidays. She is a single mom of three girls and one boy. Bettijo was a guest on the Martha Stewart Show and has frequently appeared on local television. Her work has also been featured in national magazines including Real Simple, O, Redbook, Parents, Family Circle, and Health. During quieter moments, she enjoys art, retro-modern design, photography and making new things. Bettijo lives with her four kiddos in Phoenix, Arizona.