THE GREAT NEW WONDERFUL is an ensemble piece for mature audiences dealing with 12 different characters in five stories set in New York City on the eve of the one-year anniversary of 9/11. THE GREAT NEW WONDERFUL builds emotional power and is sometimes hilarious, but its redemptive worldview includes rough material, including strong foul language and one sex scene between a married couple.
THE GREAT NEW WONDERFUL is a moving, and sometimes hilarious, ensemble piece set in New York City. It expertly weaves together five stories with 12 characters.
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.
(C, B, P, Pa, PC, Ho, LLL, V, SS, N, A, D, MM) Light redemptive worldview with light moral, pro-American qualities including church bells ring on important national anniversary and man says, "God forgive me," spoiled or mitigated by some immoral pagan content and light politically correct elements favoring acceptance of homosexuality, including two peripheral homosexual characters, but no explicit homosexual content; 18 obscenities (including some "f" words), four strong profanities and five light profanities; light, mostly implied violence, including 10-year-old boy gets in trouble for hitting classmates, off-screen suicide mentioned, distraught woman loses control and hits her fists against her husband's body, 10-year-old boy talks violently while playing, man angrily waves chair around, and man hits his psychiatrist off screen and later we see psychiatrist with a minor head wound exiting building; depicted married sex in one scene, implied homosexuality in two peripheral characters, elderly woman thinks about committing adultery, and couple kiss in bed together but get interrupted; implied nudity, upper male nudity and women in underwear; alcohol use; smoking; and, strong miscellaneous immorality such as distraught parents finally abandon their disturbed 10-year-old son, psychiatrist intimidates patient, businesswoman mocks her competition, and angry people lose control.
THE GREAT NEW WONDERFUL is an ensemble piece set in New York City. As the one-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches, an ordinary office worker who witnessed an office tragedy is confronted by a psychologist. Meanwhile, the ruthless female owner of an upper-crust pastry outfit becomes anxious about a big contract. At the same time, a young 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 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.
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.