When you think of Matthew Broderick, you think of two things probably. One is him still being known as Ferris Bueller. The other is him being known as the husband of Sex and the City‘s Sarah Jessica Parker. Some 25 years later, he still hasn’t had as memorable of a role as Ferris Bueller. Broderick’s latest attempt at a star-making film is the independent film Wonderful World. Cynics, this could be the film for you.
In Wonderful World, Matthew Broderick plays Ben Singer. Ben is a divorced, depressed, and cynical man, who was once a children’s musician and pothead near the top of his field. Now he thinks the world has gone to hell, though. This is made especially clear as he often has marijuana-induced visions of “The Man” (Philip Baker Hall), who lectures him on the unfairness of life.His new attitude has worn both his 11-year-old daughter, Sandra (Jodelle Ferland), and ex-wife, Eliza (Ally Walker), the wrong way. Ben’s only friend seems to be Ibou (Michael Kenneth Williams), a African Senegalese immigrant with whom he spends much of his free time playing chess. Then one day Ibou falls into a diabetic coma, and his sister Khadi (Sanaa Lathan) comes to visit. Fortunately for Ben, Khadi is positive about life and her good attitude begins to wear off on him. They eventually begin an affair, but does she really love him or does she just want to use him to obtain a green card?
The overall plotline seems like an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Just like in that work, Matthew Broderick plays a miserable man that eventually sees the error of ways after getting help from someone. In addition, this film is also too similar to a 2007 film called The Visitor. Just like in that film, the someone to turn things around in the life of the miserable person is an African immigrant. Unlike that film, though, everything feels forced and predictable.
It’s hard to like Matthew Broderick’s character as well. For half of the film he is a lousy human being. So it’s hard to care about what happens to him. This is not Broderick’s best role, but it’s not his worse either. He gets completely overshadowed by Sanaa Lathan. This ultimately makes their relationship unbelievable. They never show great chemistry on screen together. But you can’t fault the actors completely for that. This is definitely a case where the writing can’t keep pace with the acting.
Wonderful World doesn’t come close to marking the great return of Matthew Broderick. He often looks like he is trying too hard to make things work in this film. The rest of the cast is solid and they do their best with the material they are given. Unfortunately for them, and the audience, the material isn’t original at all, and predictable every step along the way. If you want to see this film done better, go rent The Visitor. This one is only for hardcore Matthew Broderick fans or hardcore cynics of the world.
The video included is available in the MPEG-AVC encoded image at the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The quality is great, but nothing too spectacular. Really it’s pretty average compared to other new release films on Blu-ray DVD these days. There certainly aren’t any major problems here, though.
The audio included is available in either English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English and Spanish as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear, so no major problems here either. About on par with most other new Blu-ray DVD releases.
“As Soon as Fish Fall Out of the Sky: Character and Story of Wonderful World” Featurette –
This runs 4 1/2 minutes and it features interviews with the main cast members. They talk about their characters and backstory. It’s mostly all fluffy stuff, with nothing of substance really said.
“Behind the Scenes: Working with Writer/Director Josh Goldin and Actor Matthew Broderick” Featurette –
This runs 1 1/2 minutes and it’s a big love fest for the direct and Broderick from other members of the cast and crew. Thankfully this only lasts a minute, because there is no reason for it.
“Behind the Scenes Montage” Featurette –
This runs 1 1/2 minutes and it what life on the set was like during the filming of this movie. Again too short to mean anything.
“HDNet: A Look at Wonderful World” Featurette –
This runs 4 1/2 minutes and various cast and crew members go more in-depth on the characters. This is probably the most in-depth “making of” featurette. Still pretty standard stuff is discussed here.
Wonderful World is fairly predictable. It’s not really worth owning for anyone. Only hardcore Matthew Broderick fans and cynics would possibly want to give this a rental. Others should just pass on this.
Magnolia Home Entertainment presents Wonderful World. Directed and Written by Joshua Goldin. Starring Matthew Broderick, Sanaa Lathan, Michael K. Williams, Philip Baker Hall, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Running time: 85 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: March 16, 2010. Available at Amazon.com
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