Wonderful World Joshua Goldin

Wonderful World Joshua Goldin
Knowing Matthew Broderick's recent attraction to dreadful indie dramas about listless, defeated middle-aged men, such as Diminished Capacity and Finding Amanda (the latter of which, to be fair, featured a monologue by Brittany Snow that makes me laugh every time I think about it), the similarly themed Wonderful World seems like a sure-fire loser. Add to this the fact that the plot, wherein Broderick's misanthropic worldview is exacerbated by the sudden illness of his best friend Ibu (Michael K. Williams), suggests cultural clashing and liberal sensitivity via the arrival of Ibu's Senegalese sister Khadi (Sanaa Latham) and all of the elements of a twee soapbox yarn appear complete. The surprise is that this tale of throwing the lemons life hands you at ignorant strangers is refreshing, honest, intelligent and entirely engrossing. While Goldin's script clearly comes from a very personal place — somewhere we can only speculate on and assume, given that he has no film credits since the early '90s when he wrote Darkman and Out on a Limb — it is Broderick's unsentimental and underplayed portrayal of a man without hope that invigorates the material. He manages to toss out lines like, "The world can be a bad place; most people act like assholes just to fit in" at his 11-year-old daughter and remain likable, leaving the inevitable observation from his ex-wife, "My God, Ben, she still wants to believe the world is a nice place" to play as comedy. Even the minor love story angle, which, structurally, should act as the saving grace for Ben's "condition," while glibly breaking down the barriers between cultures, does nothing of the sort, taking an unexpected and surprisingly frank turn halfway through the film. Pat resolutions and bullshit affirmations are not on the agenda, making for a rare treat with a message acknowledging that society is insane and most people are affected twats, but stabbing yourself in the throat is messy, so you might as well live. The DVD includes a couple of brief interview segments where Jodelle Ferland praises Inspector Gadget. (Mongrel Media)