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Wonderful World
Wonderful World
Actors: Matthew Broderick, Michael Kenneth Williams, Philip Baker Hall, Sanaa Lathan
Director: Josh Goldin
Genres: Comedy, Drama
R     2010     1hr 29min

Ben Singer (Matthew Broderick) is a failed children s folk singer, a career proofreader, a less-than-extraordinary weekend dad, and perhaps the most negative man alive. Floundering in all aspects of his — life, Ben's only c...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Matthew Broderick, Michael Kenneth Williams, Philip Baker Hall, Sanaa Lathan
Director: Josh Goldin
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance
Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 03/16/2010
Original Release Date: 01/01/2010
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2010
Release Year: 2010
Run Time: 1hr 29min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 6
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Robert B. (rbrown) from STARKVILLE, MS
Reviewed on 3/6/2016...
Matthew Broderick stars as Ben Singer, a guy who’s as pessimistic as they come. After about an hour and a half of setbacks, he finally decides that you’re only as happy as you allow yourself to be. The end. Actually, the movie’s better than that, but its varied pieces never feel quite like they all connect. There are a few touching moments, but, overall, it’s not something that you’ll probably ever want to see again.
Marianna S. (Angeloudi) from HOLIDAY, FL
Reviewed on 12/1/2012...
This is a little known movie starring Matthew Broderick and the beautiful Sanaa Lathan as a Senegalese woman. Broderick plays Ben Singer, a failed children's folksinger who has a jaded, cynical world view. He is a divorced, down on his luck weekend dad who thinks that "The Man" is beating him down in all aspects of life. He takes some pleasure in his chess games with his Senegalese roommate, Ibou. Ibou becomes ill and is hospitalized in a diabetic coma, so his sister Khadi comes from Senegal before it is too late. The ensuing relationship between Ben and Khadi develops. Slowly, Ben's negative world view begins to change. This is a thought provoking film where the main character is rather unlikeable yet begins to change "as soon as fish fall out of the sky." (a Senegalese proverb).

Movie Reviews

Mopey yet ultimately uplifting
D. Hartley | Seattle, WA USA | 03/01/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)

""The only crime left in the f*****g world is negative thinking," laments Ben Singer (Matthew Broderick) who holds the worldview that everything is fixed, yuppies are the root of all evil, and we're all doomed anyway so why bother. A failed children's singer (his sole album long relegated to the dusty cutout bins of history), the divorced Ben now works a dead-end job as a proofreader. When one of his co-workers chastises him for not sharing in the congratulatory excitement surrounding the news that another co-worker (an aspiring actor) has just landed his first television acting gig, he dismisses the scold with a shrug and says "I don't delude myself with hopes and dreams." He's a real piece of work.

Interestingly, however, he does have friends. He participates in a weekly after-hours jam session in the back room of a music store with a small group of pals, and proves to be a decent guitarist; it makes us wonder exactly why he's squandering his talents. As the music store owner surreptitiously observes, "That's a shame, to be good at something no one cares about." His roommate Ibu (Michael K. Williams) a Senegalese immigrant, doesn't let Ben's chronic glumness dampen his perpetually sunny disposition, and considers him to be a good friend regardless. Ben does approach a state approximating enjoyment when he spends time with his precocious 11-year old daughter (Jodelle Ferland); although his negative waves are markedly straining their relationship and becoming a source of concern to Ben's ex-wife (Ally Walker). Ben seems quite happy to continue wallowing in his half-empty glass bubble of apathetic detachment, until a series of unexpected and personally challenging events shakes his world up, not the least of which arrives in the person of Ibu's sister (Sanaa Lathan) a Senegalese national who shows up on his doorstep one fateful day.

While this is a somewhat familiar narrative (the self-pitying mope gets snapped out of his myopic torpor by the Free-Spirited Other), writer-director Goldin delivers it in a fresh and engaging manner. I was initially expecting the film to go in another direction (i.e. another black comedy about a bitter children's entertainer like "Shakes the Clown" or "Death to Smoochy"); but was pleasantly surprised by the genuine warmth and humanity at its heart. Broderick gives a nicely nuanced performance that I would put up there with his work in "Election". Lathan does a lovely job, as does Williams, whose gentle and endearing character here is quite a contrast to the character "Omar", who he played so memorably on the HBO series, "The Wire". Not a major film, but a rewarding one in the vein of "The Visitor"."
Michael Ledo | Windsor, SC United States | 08/07/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Don't use my rating as a guide to how much you will like the film. Prior to watching this film I watched Humboldt County, another Magnolia film. While different, they all run the same. There is one main character who has a big character flaw caused by the "system." He undergoes a series of life changing events, changes his outlook, and lives happily ever after. Toss in a divorced family and a cute daughter beyond her years in mental maturity and you have a Magnolia film. In this movie, Bill Singer (Matthew Broderick) is a pessimist who doesn't trust anyone and goes through the whole movie with the same 3 day growth on his face. He never shaves, nor does his beard grow out, perhaps a metaphor for his life stuck in neutral. He was once a singer of children's songs, but never made it big enough to be successful. His roommate goes into a diabetic coma and Broderick gets fired from his job. Meanwhile, his daughter, living with her mother and beyond her years in maturity, doesn't want to spend her weekends with Broderick, because he is a pessimist. While his roommate (and best friend) is in the hospital, roomies' hot sister comes to visit. They bump dirty parts and she has an effect on his life nauseum. Yes it is heart warming, enjoyable, funny at times, bittersweet, blah blah blah. There are some scenes where Broderick imagines himself talking to "the man" who looks a lot like Philip Baker Hall. Did Broderick have unprotected sex with an Afican woman? I believe his chances of getting AIDS is like 527%. Plot Spoiler: And like a good horror movie, the black guy dies first."
Wonderful World 1 Disc Widescreen Edition (2009)
Haunted Flower | Indianapolis | 03/21/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Wonderful World" was written and directed by Joshua Goldin, his first directing project. It follows Ben Singer played by Matthew Broderick who is a really big pessimist. Ben had a successful career as a children's folk music singer, but after no one bought his acoustic album, he became jaded and withdrew from the world and spends his days in a boring, safe desk job proofreading papers. His best friend and roommate, Ibu (Michael Kenneth Williams) goes into a diabetic coma and Ben's world changes when Ibu's sister, Khadi (Sanaa Lathan) comes to stay with him while her brother is ill.

The movie feels very obvious in the opening sequences, yes, he's so pessimistic, no one invites him to parties because he's a Debbie Downer. He even says at one point that the two worst inventions were the TV remote and positive thinking. The movie really improves after more challenges are put into Ben's life through the absence of his friend, the introduction of a beautiful woman from Dakar, the diminishing relationship with his daughter, Sandra (Jodelle Ferland), and the loss of his job, and his attempt to sue the city for depraved indifference. Oh and not to mention, hallucinations of "The Man" (Philip Baker Hall) as an obstacle for him to mouth off to when he smokes weed. The simple life of sitting around playing chess is put on hold.

I had a hard time seeing Matthew Broderick who is excellent at oozing a positive attitude do such an about face here. It definitely plays more funny-grouchy than dark and I think that was the director's intentional choice. Everything he does still has a certain charisma, even when he's shutting others out.

Young Jodelle Ferland as his daughter was a great choice. When I looked her up on IMDB, I had to gasp because I knew I recognized her from something and it was "Kingdom Hospital", the Stephen King mini-series where she played the creepy little girl ghost! In this film, her character has a lot of self-doubts and she is shy and has trouble really communicating with her father even though she desperately wants to. Their estranged relationship begins to repair after interacting with Khadi and watching her gradual coming out of her shell was very sweet.

Sanaa Lathan as Khadi was a breath of fresh air. She really delved deep into the culture and came out looking and sounding so authentic. I didn't realize until the DVD extras that she was using an accent, it sounded amazingly good. The way she communicated and the way she moved really grab your attention and hold it in a good way, she almost glows as Ben begins to fall in love with her.

Ally Walker plays Ben's ex-wife, Eliza. I just recently saw her in "Toe to Toe" so another appearance so quick after so long not seeing her work was unexpected. Her role in "Toe to Toe" was so depressingly indifferent toward her daughter to an almost unrealistic level, but here she plays the opposite as a mother who is more overprotective of her daughter and before even asking her about her day, she assumes Ben has said something destructive to her again and shuts him out. On the flip side though, she has a great scene where she shows some vulnerability and reveals that while she isn't 100% happy with her new life, she prefers it to being dragged down on a daily basis.

I wish there had been more music in this movie! Broderick plays a little guitar in a scene, we hear a quick sample of his CD, and we don't hear him sing till the finale. It's just such soothing melodic acoustic guitar and I am tempted to try and find a soundtrack somewhere. My favorite quote in the film was "It's such a shame to be so talented at something no one cares about." When Ben performs his children's folk music finally, the kids are uncharacteristically ecstatic.

Looking at that group of kids, I really don't believe they would have been impressed by something so nice and pleasant with today's short attention spans. If he had been playing to a crowd in the 60s maybe, but today's kids would rather play outside or video games unless it's an ice show or Disney rock concert in front of them. That deviation from reality aside, it was still nice to see the character Ben get back to his roots eventually. Everything in this movie is a matter of perspective and some people might find that boring but I felt it all added up to a very pleasant movie. As he warms up to people and the idea of the world being a better place than he's seen it as of late, you too will be warmed watching it. I loved the exploration of another culture and the comparisons to America and making Ben enjoy the freedoms he has instead of criticizing his ex-wife for living in a big house with a big shot. I felt like the parting message here was a quote from a different movie, "Death to Smoochy", "You can't change the world, but you can make a dent." By changing his own corner, Ben finds a way to bring happiness to people around him again instead of misery.

DVD Extras:

There are three featurettes, "As Soon as Fish Fall Out of the Sky: Character and Story of Wonderful World", Working with the Director and with Matthew Broderick, and a Behind the scenes montage. All three are very short, probably two to three minutes a piece and are pieced together from interviews done with individual cast members. While more is explored about the characters in the first one, the director and actor one is just people heaping praise on them, and the montage is just shots of directing and camerawork put to music. A fourth featurette: "HDNet: A Look at Wonderful World" feels like one of those behind the scenes previews they play at my local movie theater and doesn't cover any new ground."