Release Date: November 17, 2017
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Writer: Stephen Chbosky, Steve Conrad, Jack Thorne, R.J. Palacio
Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Owen Wilson, Izabela Vidovic, Julia Roberts, Mark Dozlaw, Rukiya Bernard, Jennifer March, Mandy Patinkin, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Elle McKinnon, Daveed Diggs, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf, James A Hughes, J. Douglas Stewart, Millie Davis, Ali Liebert, Jospeh Gordon, Cameron Roberts, Danielle Rose Russell, Erika McKitrick, Nadji Jeter, Ben Ratner, Jason McKinnon, Izzy Liebreman, Hannah Hoberman, Michael Alan Healy, Sonia Braga, Nicole Oliver, Emily Delahunty, Lucia Thain, Sasha Neuhaus, Rachel Hayward
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 113 minutes
Production Company: Lionsgate, Mandeville, Films, Participant Media, Walden Media
With this release whether it is counter programming for other debuts during the current weekend or not, it’s the perfect feel good movie to launch during award season. Though saying this is a cute little movie is accurate, but it achieves so much more. Based on the 2012 novel written by R.J. Palacio, director Stephen Chboksy (The Perks of being a Wallflower) adapted this story into a well-grounded piece of art that’s full of remarkable story telling, meaningful relationships, and imagination. He took his time to give you multiple perspectives, that you’ll do nothing but appreciate. While some may be able to relate to it more than others, if anything else, it’s sure to make you smile for the rest of the day.
Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome. It’s a genetic facial disorder characterized by deformities of the ears, eyes, cheekbones, and chin. There aren’t any known cure for the disorder, but it can be remedied to a degree with many surgeries. Auggie has gone through over 20 procedures, and because of his condition he has limited experience with the outside world, and other children of his age. Though at age ten, he enters fifth grade, and for the first time in his life he’ll be surrounded by children other than homeschool to get a true account of what life is like. As you would imagine, and from his own words in the film, he’s petrified.
What draws you in initially into the film is the character build up which is led by the main star Jacob Tremblay (Room). He’s a fine child actor, and was able to make that point even clearer with his delightful narration not only in the beginning of the film, but throughout its entirety. His childlike innocence is to die for, and the imagination he uses aspiring to be an astronaut one day will melt your heart like butter. His parents being played by Owen Wilson, and Julia Roberts, helped to land the message of a warm loving family. With the addition of their daughter as well, it’s the type of family anyone would love to be a part of even with the number of hardships they must encounter. It isn’t necessarily an easy life they have, but they make the most of if, and believable, through all of their lovely performances
Usually in western entertainment, films are crafted together in a three-act structure. That can be the case here, but I loved how the story-telling was broken into four chapters covering four key characters from their own interesting perspective. Initially, I wasn’t a fan of the black screen populating then transitioning over unto the next scene, but after a while it started to flow smoothly for a nicer ride while watching the film. Besides Jacob being the main character, the rest of the cast had prominent and equal roles as well. No one character outshined the other in their supporting roles which helped to bring the entire film together, tied off with a nice red bow.
The sound design and mixing stood out as well. It was a splendid tool to use with Auggie to tell his side of the story. It was extremely tough on him to get used to things, and the film came up with a plethora of ways to drive this point home, while entertaining you with laughter, but also displaying the realism that this is a hard and cold world that we live in. The only complaint I would have is the film contained multiple endings, not knowing where to stop and halt, but the conclusion was the perfect sendoff for the film before the credits began to rise. I loved this film entirely other than a few hiccups, but found myself at times smiling ear to ear. This may speak to you on so many levels. As you’re watching the kids engage on screen during grade school, you may be able to reflect on your childhood days in school, and how they affected you as you grew. Seeing things in this way is an eye opener, and it brings new meaning to how we’re all products of our environment. It may change the way you evaluate things today without being preachy or telling you how you should think. There are so many small aspects of the film that many will be able to relate with no matter what walk of life they come from which propels this film easily into the category of one of the best films of the year. I could watch this film over and over, and that’s just a testament on how wonderful the overall message truly is.