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A gentle, moving drama about a 10-year-old boy (Jacob Tremblay) born with facial deformities and his struggle to win acceptance from his peers as he transitions from being educated at home to attending fifth grade at his local middle school. His sympathetic parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) offer support as does his older sister (Izabela Vidovic), despite the fact that his emotional needs have left her feeling overlooked by Mom and Dad. The attitudes of his fellow students (most prominently Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar and Millie Davis) range from open friendliness to cruel hostility with Jupe's character representing a case study in moral subtlety and the negative effects of peer pressure. In adapting R.J. Palacio's best-seller, director and co-writer Stephen Chbosky has created a winning and memorable film about the significance of ordinary life and the lasting impact of everyday choices. Despite a few mature elements, the movie's ethical lessons make it appropriate and valuable fare for most teens.


Watch out for: A scene vaguely referencing married sexuality, fleeting scatological material, a couple of fistfights, one use of profanity, a single mildly crass term.


Rated: A-II, adults and adolescents; MPAA: PG


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017