THE GREAT NEW WONDERFUL
Release Date: June 23, 2006
Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Olympia
Dukakis, Tony Shalhoub, Jim
Gaffigan, Naseerudin Shah,
Sharat Saxena, Judy Greer, Tom
McCarthy, Edie Falco, and
Audience: Older teenagers to adults
Runtime: 88 minutes
Distributor: First Independent Pictures
Director: Danny Leiner
Executive Producer: Vic Bardack, Michael Nozik,
Michael Hoffman, Amy Robinson,
Raj Singh, Gary Rubin, and C.
Producer: Matt Tauber, Danny Leiner and
Writer: Sam Catlin
Address Comments To:Gary Rubin, President
First Independent Pictures
1542 15th Street, Suite 130
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: (310) 656-9480
As the one-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack approaches, an ordinary office worker who witnessed an office tragedy is confronted by a psychologist, who thinks the man harbors buried rage. Meanwhile, the ruthless female owner of The Great New Wonderful, an upper-crust pastry outfit, is anxious about a big party for a wealthy couple's teenage daughter. At the same time, a young married couple tries to keep their marriage together while dealing with their 10-year-old son, who seems to be a serial killer in the making. Two immigrants, security guards for a Pakistani general, have problems reconciling their two opposing outlooks on life. Finally, an elderly woman with a non-responsive husband, finds herself attracted to a childhood friend she meets again. Everything comes to a head on the anniversary of 9/11.
It takes a while for these disparate stories to connect with one another. It becomes clear, however, that the theme of each story is how feelings of angst, shock, sadness, and unease among these characters are building to uncontrolled rage.
An amazing cast of relative newcomers and veterans has been assembled for this piece, including Olympia Dukakis as the elderly married woman, Maggie Gyllenhaal as the pastry businesswoman, Emmy-winner Tony Shalhoub (in another excellent performance) as the psychiatrist, and Jim Gaffigan as the perplexed office worker. The cast delivers wonderful sudden insights into people dealing with loss and tragedy. At the end, one of the characters stops in his tracks and says, "I think I'm lost." Though his statement ends the movie on an anti-climactic note, it expresses the truth that admitting we are lost and powerless is the first step on the road to redemption, healing and peace.
Don't expect any strong, really overt moral or religious points in this movie, however. THE GREAT NEW WONDERFUL is a story for adults that is quiet and subtle in its moral, spiritual effects. It contains one scene of depicted married sex, strong foul language and two peripheral characters that are homosexual.
It takes a while for these stories to connect. It becomes clear, however, that the theme of each story is how angst, sadness and unease among these characters are building to uncontrolled rage. An amazing cast of veterans and relative newcomers delivers wonderful sudden insights into people dealing with loss and tragedy. In the end, the movie expresses the truth that admitting we are lost and powerless is the first step to redemption and peace.