The Great New Wonderful
First Independent Pictures
It sounds like a bad Simpsons gag: a sensitive post-9/11 ensemble dramedy from the director of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Danny Leiner’s The Great New Wonderful tells the strangely touching stories of a diverse group of New Yorkers barely concealing their fear and rage in September 2002. (9/11 isn’t mentioned, but it looms over every character like an unspeakable dread.) Leiner avoids schmaltz by letting the story take some strange turns, and he’s assembled a cast that includes Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, Olympia Dukakis and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Unfortunately, the performances are a mixed bag, and no one truly brings these roles to life. Gyllenhaal comes off the worst—after her fierce work in Secretary, she’s cornered the market on neurotic, sobbing urban professionals.