The Great New Wonderful

5.61 h 27 min2005R
"The Great New Wonderful" paints five portraits of life in the city a year after 9/11. These stories reveal that being lost often precedes a new beginning.
Danny Leiner
Maggie GyllenhaalWill ArnettJudy Greer
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Jim Parsons
Matt TauberDanny LeinerLeslie Urdang
R (Restricted)
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4.2 out of 5 stars

25 global ratings

  1. 66% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 8% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 8% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 8% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

O. Merce BrownReviewed in the United States on May 3, 2007
5.0 out of 5 stars
For the Right Viewer---Great, New, AND Wonderful
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This movie is not for everyone. It is being billed as an "intelligent comedy" and I would not call it that. It is more of an intelligent drama with dark comedic overtones. If you are looking for a ha-ha funny comedy, don't get this movie, as it is not light-hearted, either, as the name implies. However, for the right viewer, I would have to say that it really is a great movie, it is absolutely new, and I found it wonderful, too.

The movie is ostensibly about five New Yorkers and the details of their lives a year after 9/11. These characters were not involved in the 9/11 tragedy directly, but it shows how the stress of just living in the city where this tragedy happened has affected each of their lives and the conclusions about their lives they've arrived at by the end of the movie. The five stories interweave but can be watched separately in the special features section. I highly recommend watching them together, though, because there are parallel elements between the stories, even though at first they are not obvious. In general, I see this film as being about the stress of living our lives today, and the choices we make about our problems.

Now, here's why I think this movie is not getting rave reviews---when I watched it the first time I thought "This is just dumb" other words, I didn't get it at all---but since then, I've never had a movie haunt me so much. The more I think about it the more meaning I find in it. Have you ever watched a movie like that? I usually either love them or feel like I've wasted my time. So this movie is definitely different. It is subtle and profound, and has to "sink in". If you have someone to watch movies with who enjoys discussing them afterwards (and your friend is pretty intelligent and introspective), then the experience will be even better. I cannot stop thinking about it, which is a new experience for me.

The acting is fantastic, and includes a cast of respected actors (see the description of their past roles above).

I rented it first, and then bought it, which I would recommend. If you are the right viewer, watching this movie will be a new experience for you, one that will make you think about life in general, and one you will never forget. You'll want to watch all the special features, and the movie over and over again.

14 people found this helpful
Michelle PolkReviewed in the United States on August 18, 2007
1.0 out of 5 stars
What a disappointment...
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This drama is so stupid. One man is driven to madness, a child that has anger problems,a man obsessed with cheating on his wife, and a woman trying to be the best at her job. The only thing that remotely brings the topic of 9/11 is the pscho evaluation. I guess the writers want you to guess the child has anger issues because of 9/11. THis movie was all over the place in direction. THe acting was good and they had a great cast but obviously the writers didn't know what to do with them. Definitely not a family movie!
2 people found this helpful
MisterBReviewed in the United States on May 22, 2013
3.0 out of 5 stars
Never watched it.
Verified purchase
I thought it was a cheap comedy with Jim Gaffigan but when I realized it wasn't I never made time to watch it...
H. SchneiderReviewed in the United States on December 10, 2010
4.0 out of 5 stars
What is a comedy?
This is a decent little movie, interweaving five episodes set in NY in September 2002. References to the event of a year before are minimal.
Sometimes people from different story lines ride the same elevator. That's as much interconnection as you get.
For the life of me I will not understand why amazon touts it as a lighthearted comedy. My DVD copy even calls it a `brilliant comedy' on the cover. I don't get it. There is almost no single funny moment in the film. All episodes are essentially tragic. The need to laugh once in a while is like the whistling in the dark.
A couple can't cope with their sociopath of an obese son.
Two competing pastry queens drive each other towards suicide.
A shrink cures a man from his hidden aggression by bringing it out into the open, unless he causes it.
A woman finally tries to murder her hated husband.
A loud mouth macho security guard finds that living up to his boasts is more than he bargained for. Of all the stories, this is maybe the only one that one can laugh about without losing self respect.
The movie is neither great nor memorable, it is just interesting and honest enough to stay with it.
Lighthearted comedy? Tell me another one!
2 people found this helpful
Ed UyeshimaReviewed in the United States on October 24, 2006
3.0 out of 5 stars
Good Cast Cannot Hide Story Deficiencies in an Omnibus Look at Post-9/11 Trauma
It's admirable that director Danny Leiner and screenwriter Sam Catlin have attempted to tackle the inarticulate emotional toll that 9/11 has taken on a group of New Yorkers rather than tell a more visceral story directly related to the tragedy (like Paul Greengrass' "United 93" or Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center"). Unfortunately, the filmmakers' intended cathartic exercise falls significantly short due to a too-subtle patchwork narrative and the film's relentlessly enervating pace. Five unconnected stories begin a year after 9/11, and we are taken through the characters' paces in dealing with some form of emotional denial. The most pertinent thread is initially the most comic one in which a seemingly well-adjusted office worker named Sandie talks to a sardonic psychologist, Dr. Trabulous, about the impact of the tragedy.

The other episodes are somewhat more removed from the events of that day - Avi and Satish, a couple of bickering Indian security agents overseeing the speaking engagement of a foreign diplomat; a married couple, David and Allison, whose overweight adolescent son Charlie has become socially dysfunctional; Judie, an older woman in Brooklyn quietly seething about her tedious marriage as she seeks the company of Jerry, an old schoolmate; and an upscale cake designer named Emme who is trying to land a big client at the expense of her famous rival, Safarah. None of the stories really connect with each other except for a rather contrived scene in an elevator, though that seems to be the filmmakers' point, that the scope of 9/11 affected each of their immediate situations in idiosyncratic ways. The movie only runs 87 minutes, but it takes at least an hour for the stories to take shape toward some common dramatic point. Even then, it still feels too nebulous to make a resonant emotional impact, and consequently, the opportunity for catharsis feels frittered away.

It's not for the lack of a good cast. Stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan brings out Sandie's inner torment palpably as Tony Shalhoub listens with oblique bemusement; Maggie Gyllenhaal displays the steely shallowness of Emme as she faces an unexpected turn; Naseeruddin Shah and Sharat Saxena dexterously show their characters' opposing views on life and what secrets may lie beneath; Judy Greer and Tom McCarthy bring surprising depth to a couple confounded by their son's eruptive violence; and Olympia Dukakis is stoic strength personified as Judie. Edie Falco has nothing more than a cameo as Safarah, but her moments count. New York City is captured crisply by cinematographer Harlan Bosmajian on high-definition video. The DVD has a rather informal but somewhat interesting commentary track by Leiner and Catlin, as well as several deleted scenes and unused footage of the city. An intriguing extra is the ability to watch each of the five episodes separately as individual shorts. There is also the theatrical trailer, a gallery of stills accompanied by the soundtrack, and a helpful blurb about the outreach program organized to deal with post-9/11 trauma.
2 people found this helpful
Grady HarpReviewed in the United States on September 16, 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Little Stories: 9/11 Aftershocks
Danny Leiner has provided us with a quiet little collection of stories written by first-time writer Sam Catlin in the form of overlapping lives of people one year from the trauma of 9/11. Though billed as a comedy, the 'comedy' comes more from the nuances of reality that has settled into Manhattan and the world since that treacherous event. Yes, there are humorous moments in these collected tales, but there is always a dark side that predominates, largely due to not only to the fine script and directing, but also to an amazingly gifted cast of ensemble actors.

September 2002, Manhattan, and we gradually meet a psychiatrist (Tony Shalhoub) as he 'interrogates' a sugar addicted man with internalized anger issues (Jim Gaffigan); two fragilely connected parents (Judy Greer and Tom McCarthy) coping with their obese sociopathic young son; the elderly Judie (Olympia Dukakis) coping with her boring and distant husband; two competing pastry chefs (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Edie Falco) whose vapid lives are focused on creating cakes for silly events; and two Indian bodyguards (Naseeruddin Shah and Sharat Saxena) who spend their days protecting officials while dealing with home front crises. How these five stories develop and overlap in the early days of September demonstrate how ordinary people have been coping with the incomprehensible act of a year ago. As the first year anniversary of that event arrives, each of the five stories reaches its own peak with its individual climaxes of action and the subtlety in which each ordinary tale plays out is mesmerizing.

There are no major insights here, no noisy confrontations with the seed act that occurred, just life among survivors doing what they have done to make it through another year. Every role is played with aplomb by this fine cast of actors - each knowing just when to let the heart show and the courage work itself out. It is a gentle film that allows us to reflect and think about how we all have handled the unimaginable. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 06
6 people found this helpful
Jim & YvonneReviewed in the United States on October 15, 2006
1.0 out of 5 stars
No good sympathy review due to subject matter for this one...
"The "Lame" New Wonderful," A movie with some great acting with an assemble cast lacks in the department of storytelling. Another movie that deals with the horrific 9/11 attacks, actually the year following 9/11 near the one year anniversary of everyday New Yorkers trying to "cope" with living in a city in which such tragedy occurred within the previous year. The movie dealt with little of people who actually knew someone who died in the attacks, had little really to deal with 9/11 except for portions in which a psychologist is crisis counseling an employee that had a near, well, close call. There is no doubt that New Yorkers felt stressed during the time being portrayed in the movie and probably even today still, but besides the above reference and the overhead shots of planes and the thunderous roaring sounds engines of large planes in the background, this movie had really little to deal with 9/11. What it dealt with is every day stresses of life, of who you want to be and how precious and delicate life really is. Maggie G. was great in it, the rest of the cast was OK, but what it lacked in storytelling did not make up in emotion except for one particular part in which a couple of (spoiler) parents give up on a child--The only real emotional scene in the entire movie. Independent movie it was, but unfortunately, this independent movie didn't fair as well as others has been of late. As for the 9/11 subplot, my belief is it was thrown in and referenced just a couple times in the movie to gain an audience. The best 9/11 movies that I have seen are "United 93" and the TV mini-series "The Path to 9/11." I purchased this movie on pay-per-view because I was really bored. I love dialog driven movies, but this movies dialog was sub par, boring and in my view exploitive in using the attacks of 9/11 as a selling point for seeing the movie. This movie was just awful, awfully boring, and awfully tedious to watch. Wait until you find a copy next to a dumpster, then lift the lid of that dumpster and throw the trash where it needs to go, back into the dumpster.
5 people found this helpful
Peter ShermetaReviewed in the United States on December 19, 2006
2.0 out of 5 stars
Short Version: Don't see this.
Long Version:

How does that Meat Loaf song go? Two out of Three Ain't Bad? I guess that means one out of three is bad. This movie was neither Great, nor Wonderful. And as soon as it is no longer considered "new," it will be zero out of three.

I wanted to enjoy the movie. For most of the movie I enjoyed the characters and felt for them in certain scenarios. Something was just missing. Well, I figure two things were missing: cohesion and closure.

I can appreciate the idea of many smaller stories combined to form one bigger super-movie. Maybe I am just used to seeing it more when the stories have some common element. These stories never intertwined and nothing, except the emotional roller coaster of life in The Big Apple was the same for any of the characters.

There were emotional highs and lows. Hopes were exalted and dashed. And all the while...nothing really happened. There was no story; we simply follow a few people on their day-to-day routines and see the happiness and pain they experience at whatever intervals they experience them.

And then the movie ends. That's it.

Well to be fair they showed one more scene that only serves to compound the abundance of loose ends and detract from any feeling of compassion. I won't spoil the final scene, but it was not the most "pro-family" scene I have ever watched.

The movie does have a decent list of names associated with it. Probably my favorite of the bunch is Jim Gaffigan. He may not be the funniest comedian, but I have enjoyed seeing him in what I can when I can. He and Tony Shalhoub bantered well together as doctor and patient. Their story was a little forced, but the two had good chemistry.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is finally beginning to grow on me. Or then again it might just be the part she played was much more...wholesome than roles she has had in the past (e.g. Happy Endings)

It certainly would take much more than additional witty banter from Jim Gaffigan and wholesomeness from Maggie Gyllenhaal to even make The Great New Wonderful into A Movie Worth Seeing. I do not recommend you see this movie. I will even go one step further to recommend you avoid it altogether.
4 people found this helpful
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