I was super honored to be invited by Lionsgate to an early screening of Wonder in Chicago earlier this month. I was excited to see the movie, but then to find out that Daveed Diggs was going to be doing a Q&A after the screening, it became a MUST attend event.
This “review” will come to you in 3 parts. Part 1, the review, part 2 Q&A recap, and part 3, GIVEAWAY! Big thank you to Lionsgate for sponsoring this giveaway. We’ll have several prize packs to giveaway to Chicagoland readers (Northern Illinois, South Eastern Wisconsin, and North Western Indiana). Full giveaway details will be below.
I have not read Wonder by R.J. Palacio, the book the movie is based on. All the read-a-long fun prior to the movie has been covered by Sophie, so I was going in pretty cold other than I knew the main character, August, was born with a facial deformity, and that the movie had an amazing cast.
So, while I’m writing this review, I realized that Stephen Chbosky, author of Perks of Being a Wallflower (Chbosky wrote the screenplay and directed the adaptation) also write the screenplay and directed Wonder. No wonder I enjoyed it so much.
So back to the cast. August “Augie” Pullan is played by Jacob Tremblay (of Room fame), his parents are played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, Mandy Patinkin played the school principal, and Daveed Diggs (yep the guy with the amazing hair from Hamilton) played one of Augie’s teachers. The cast is rounded out by some amazing child actors playing Augie’s sister Via (Izabela Vidovic), Augie’s classmate Jack Will (Noah Jupe), school cool kid/bully Julian (Bryce Gheisar) and so many more.
The movie is not just Augie’s story, and that’s what makes it so great. You can relate to what he’s going through on the basic level of being the “ugly duckling,” not really fitting in with his peers at first, being the new kid at school, or any of the multitude of reasons why it’s hard to be in middle school. The story goes deeper and you see how everyone has been impacted by Augie’s birth defect and how taking a leap of faith and being kind can have big impacts on everyone.
The movie looks at Augie’s sister Via and how as she deals with being in high school and her trying to find who she is after being under the shadow of Augie’s medical needs. It follows Jack Will as he learns the how hard it is to stand up for what’s right and the pitfalls of following the “it” crowd. And Miranda (Danielle Rose Russell), Via’s best friend growing up as she deals with an evolving home life. And Julian as he hopefully learns that bullying is not okay and that you sometimes have to be a bigger person even if the adults in your life aren’t being the best example of how to be kind. And I could go on and on. Each character in the movie has their moment to shine and show how they have evolved as Augie gains more confidence.
Wonder is a story of growth and perseverance. It’s a heartwarming and humbling movie that is a must-see for everyone.
Head over to wonder.movie to watch the trailer and some fun featurettes, get your tickets, create your own wonderous portrait and more.
Daveed Diggs, best known for playing Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in the Broadway hit Hamilton, plays Augie’s teacher Mr. Browne in Wonder. He did a 20-minute Q&A after the movie where he took questions from the audience and a few from the night’s host. It was a fun, playful Q&A that was full of a lot of heart just like the movie.
Favorite Children’s Books? DD: Valentine Rabbit, Goodnight Moon, WHere the Wildthing Are, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.
What characters from your childhood do you imagine populating your world? DD: Thunder Cats, Transformers, P-Funk/Sir Nose
Daveed got asked if he had any shocks or surprises while filming Wonder. He shared this bit of information: The first time anyone saw Jacob Tremblay in his make-up as Augie was when the cameras started rolling allowing the actors to take the same journey as their characters in the movie from the initial reactions to one of empathy and seeing the person, not just the thing that makes them different.
What do you want people to take away from the movie? DD: You are enough and just you showing up and being committed to being fully yourself is enough. And two, that we have so many opportunities during the day to choose kind and it doesn’t really cost you anything and that kindness radiates outward.
What’s the difference between acting on TV and Movies? DD: In TV the conversation is really between the actor and the writer’s room. There’s a dialog happening [between the actors and the writers] and those characters develop over the course of a season or two seasons or many seasons. On a film, you know the whole story before your starting, and the real conversation is between all the moving pieces, actors included, and the director.
Advice for young artists. DD: Stop waiting and just do the thing. Art happens in communities. So find yourself other like-minded artists and just do it … and the business part will happen.
Here’s a short video of the night:
Thanks to Lionsgate, we have 5 wonder prize packs to giveaway. Each winner will get the items pictured (poster, clip-on phone lens, bookmark, and starlight), plus a t-shirt and a copy of the book Wonder. This giveaway is open to Chicagoland area residents only (Northern Illinois, South Eastern Wisconsin, North Western Indiana). The prize is being shipped from a 3rd party vendor. Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.