"The Great New Wonderful" is neither great nor wonderful, but it works on a rudimentary level. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tony Shalhoub, Edie Falco and Stephen Colbert, among others, the movie is about a bunch of random characters in New York City who all have to deal with their ups and downs, and laugh at their mistakes. Beyond that, I stopped paying attention before I could really discover the purpose of the story.
Now out on DVD, "The Great New Wonderful" is one of those films that will quickly end up in the bargain bin, and will likely be one of those "I never heard of this" films despite a good cast. The movie never reached mainstream status for the simple fact that it is just not good enough to warrant a wide release. That being said, it isn't bad enough to be relegated to one of those many direct-to-video releases you see at Blockbuster that have a good cast and make you wonder what the hell the actors were thinking - or what kind of blackmail the producers had on them.
I really don't know what the purpose of the movie is. There's a story about a frustrated yet quiet man who is accepting guidance from an eccentric psychiatrist (Shaloub). Gyllenhaal plays a cake designer who is trying to make a big sale. A married couple has to come to grips with the fact that their son is a loser, as dictated by Principal Colbert. And some old woman, who meets one of her old high school friends on the street, realizes that her life has gone to shit. There's also something about this taking place shortly after September 11, but I honestly have no clue how that tied into anything. In fact, I have no clue how any of the character stories tie in with one another at all, which is a bit strange for an ensemble comedy such as this. Since one of the bonus features allows you to watch this movie as five separate mini-movies, that probably means there is no overlap at all. Of course, this isn't exactly "Sin City," so why you would want to watch this movie in that fashion is beyond me. Then again, I turned the movie off halfway through because I was bored and distracted by more interesting things - and didn't pick it up again for another several days.
There are some funny moments scattered throughout, and most of the characters have some interesting aspects to them. Shaloub is pretty funny in a "Monk" kind of way, and Gyllenhaal, as usual, is quite good.
Ultimately, there is nothing particularly awful about "The Great New Wonderful," but the movie is too bland to generate any broad appeal.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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