Wrapping up my month of catching up on 2017, we come across another title that, for my money, ends up being one of the best feel-good films of 2017. There's a lot of sad stuff to this, and it is a bit depressing, but it's altogether inspiring to see young Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) overcome adversity, especially when he's been stuck with a pretty rough facial deformity for these ten years of his life.
At the age of ten, Auggie is made to check out what it might be like in a regular school, as opposed to being homeschooled by his mother (Julia Roberts). Though nervous as all hell, Auggie tries it out, and his parents (along with father played by Owen Wilson) and sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic) encourage him, offering kind words and advice for his first day. As one might imagine, though, that first day doesn't exactly go well, as he becomes the subject of some harsh verbal bullying. However, this whole thing is about overcoming adversity, and letting people know who you are as a person, as opposed to what's on the outside.
As the story continues, we develop a few interestingly developed characters. The school bully, Julian (Bryce Gheisar), Auggie's new best friend, Jack Will (Noah Jupe) and a girl named Summer (Millie Davis), who thankfully provides living proof that a film doesn't have to have a love interest are among them. Tied in with all of this are his extremely likable principal, Mr. Tushman (Mandy Patinkin) and equally likable teachers, Mr. Browne (Daveed Diggs), who really seems to look out for Auggie, and Ms. Petosa (Ali Liebert) who encourages Auggie's gift for science.
There's one brilliant twist to this movie that I had no idea was coming, but it brings a whole new formula to the film, making it one of my favorites of the year. Though the early parts of the film, are narrated by Auggie, we also get differing perspectives to the story. Characters develop through their own narrations, offering their perspectives on Auggie. These are all characters who you don't particularly like at some point, because they say or do something cruel. But upon hearing their narrations, we learn that there's more to them then just being assholes. They also show their empathy towards Auggie, and their understanding that there's more there than meets the eye.
It's a very good, feel-good family movie, and it's even a little nostalgic, making you think back to your elementary days. They did a fantastic job here in making these kids appropriate kids. There's one girl who stands out like a sore thumb as kinda fake, but right from the get-go, we kinda get that its just her character, while the other kids are pretty much normal. There are no real extremes here, and I'm thankful to say that young Mr. Tremblay isn't picked on by Stephen King bullies until he shows up in 'Doctor Sleep' - by this I mean that King bullies are generally very extreme, out for blood, ready to kill, and more than likely the victim of a rough home life.
Anyway, I can admit that there is a handful of movies out there that one might wanna watch for a good cry, but with mostly positive tears. For me, this quickly became one of them. I love that this movie offers different perspectives on the story, developing the surrounding characters just as much as Auggie, and letting us know that we might wanna double check something before leaping to horrible conclusions. The whole matter ended up developing the friend, Jack Will, into probably my favorite character of the film. He's probably the best example of a back and forth character, as we like him, hate him, then almost love him. Not standing alone, though, these characters are very well fleshed out, and it helps provide us with a charming, simple family story, with basic life lessons at its core, well worth the run-through at least once. It's a great play on the heart strings.