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The Great New Wonderful

27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Edie Falco, Tony Shaloub, Stephen Colbert and Olympia Dukakis star in this lighthearted comedy about life in New York City one year following 9/11. It’s a comedy about starting over.

A rich portrait of life in New York in the wake of disaster, The Great New Wonderful offers a kind of compassion rare in film. Five storylines intertwine--including competitive pastry chefs (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Secretary, and Edie Falco, The Sopranos), an elderly woman (Olympia Dukakis, Moonstruck) realizing she can't stand her lumpish husband, and a middle-class parents (Judy Greer, Arrested Development, and Tom McCarthy, Syriana) coping with their increasingly sociopathic child--all of them thick with brilliantly observed social tension. As a therapist (Tony Shalhoub, Big Night) questions a patient (Jim Gaffigan), it's ambiguous whether he's diagnosing the patient's anger or actually causing it. The Great New Wonderful makes compelling drama out of the subtle discords of commonplace life, the kind of frustration and hostility that rises up constantly but has to be tamped back down in order to get through the day--but in the aftermath of a catastrophe like 9/11, the smallest things become unbearable. The Great New Wonderful doesn't rise to the scope of Robert Altman's best work (like Nashville), but it successfully avoids the forced pretensions of other ensemble pieces like Magnolia. Subtlety is too often invoked to excuse a lack of substance, but this movie genuinely makes small nuances tangible and compelling. --Bret Fetzer

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Olympia Dukakis, Jim Gaffigan, Judy Greer, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tom McCarthy
  • Directors: Danny Leiner
  • Writers: Sam Catlin
  • Producers: Danny Leiner, Allison Wolf, Amy Robinson, C.C. Lagator, Damon Martin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, Hindi
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: First Independent
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2006
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GNOHG4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,525 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Great New Wonderful" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 17, 2006
Format: DVD
Although it takes a bit long to get off the ground, and it never really explains what it is really about, The Great New Wonderful is a sometimes quirky, always bittersweet exercise in how New Yorkers are soldiering on after September 11th. The portrait is one of melancholy as this disparate and eclectic group of people from all walks of life goes through their paces, consistently jumpy, often frightened and always sad.

For five sets of New Yorkers life in September 2002 is still just as much of a struggle as it was after that terrible day on 2001. Two youthful and nice parents Allison (Judy Geer) and David Burbage (Tom McCarthy) are at the end of their tether emotionally. As their sex life gradually diminishes, they spend their days worrying about their ten-year-old hyperactive son Charlie (Billy Donner) who is disobedient at home and violent to his classmates at school.

Sandie (Jim Gaffigan) is a mild-mannered but tightly wound survivor of 9/11 - apparently he worked on the seventh floor of the World Trade Center. Things would be fine except for the goading of a dotty therapist (Tony Shalhoub) his employers have forced him to consult. Emme (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is an astute and ruthless young cake decorator who owns The Great New Wonderful, a pastry company that has lost out to the Queen of Cake, Safarah (Edie Falco).

Judy Berman (Olympia Dukakis) is a working class senior who is forced to put up with her mechanical husband who does nothing but watch television all day and after dinner retire to the terrace for a smoke. They do not talk and the only thing that keeps Judy going is the artwork she does in their small kitchen. One day, a childhood friend bumps into her, and they reconnect, their friendship perhaps a harbinger of hope.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By O. Merce Brown HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 3, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase

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".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on December 10, 2010
Format: DVD
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!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ernest P. Howell on June 27, 2007
Format: DVD
The cover of the movie said "A brilliant comedy" and I didn't see any brilliance nor any comedy. Half way through I asked my wife if she knew what this movie was about; she didn't know either. It's the next day and I still don't know. As a very open minded person I usually really enjoy the odd movies. This one puzzlles me how it ever got off the ground. If you have a few hours to waste, watch it.
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