“Wonderful World” is a small indie film whose protagonist, Ben Singer (Matthew Broderick), always has a pessimistic outlook on life. If he could have a permanent frown on his face, he probably would have one. He has been working at the same job for over eight years and loathes everyday he is there. He doesn’t feel the need to escape that job because he believes that any job directly benefits “The Man,” it is just a matter of the way the function is presented. Essentially, he is the kind of person who would sue a tow-truck driver for the crime of depraved indifference.
It is kind of odd that he ended up this way, because he used to be one of the largest children’s musicians of the time. He actually used to play for several kids at the local civic center during one point. As of late, his career has been diminishing more and more by the day. Every once in a while, he’ll jam with some musicians at a nearby music store, but what’s the point of a good talent when nobody around you cares?
Singer also happens to be a divorced father. On weekends, he is able to spend time with his tomboyish daughter (Jodelle Ferland) who has a fascination with hockey. Her mother and Singer’s former wife Eliza (Ally Walker) continues to point the finger at him for all the problems with the child’s development. She becomes so concerned at one point that she begins to lie that she is already at a friend’s house or things of that nature.
One day, Ben’s Senegalese roommate Ibou (Michael K. Williams) goes into a diabetic coma and is rushed to the hospital. Treatment is said to take place for an extended period of time. In that amount of time, Ibou’s sister Khadi (Sanaa Lathan) flies straight to her brother’s aid. For the time being, Khadi occupies the section of the apartment that Ibou once resided. At first slightly alienated by Khadi’s customs, Ben falls into a relationship with her. This incident begins to shine a tiny little beacon of hope into Singer’s discouraging perspective.
Unfortunately, “Wonderful World” is not quite as "half-way-decent" as it sounds when I am describing it. One major complaint I had related to the believability of the relationship. Rather than allowing the romance between Ben and Khadi to naturally evolve, the way it is presented really seems forced and awkward. There isn’t really any reason behind why this happens in the movie; it just kind of insincerely happens. It does not feel convincing enough to have any concrete humanity.
While Matthew Broderick may look and even act the part of an aging misanthrope in the film, his character is the only one who is developed to a certain degree. The rest appear either as unnecessary or typecast. The ex-wife is overbearing. The new husband is a tool. Ben Singer’s daughter in the movie seems somewhat interesting, but she is hardly given enough time on screen to progress or hold the viewer's interest.
The film’s worst problem is that it does not set any personal aspirations for itself. The protagonist himself starts off as not too likable and by the end has hardly redeemed himself at all. He doesn’t strive to change anything throughout the film’s duration. The movie doesn’t have credible ambition and the overall product is very bland and mediocre. The filmmakers purely don’t care enough about the characters, the script or the plot, which consequently makes the audience not care about those things, either.
Unfortunately, “Wonderful World” does not live up to its wonderful title. It is more accurately a ‘miserable mess’ or a ‘forgettable film.’ The plotline is haphazardly executed and aimlessly perpetuates, the characters are sub-par, and there isn’t really much to say about the directional or artistic craft of the film. Possibly with some stronger effort, this kind of inadequacy could have been avoided. Possibly.
Note: I just now noticed that the picture I used for this movie and the one I used for "Crazy Heart" are pretty much the same picture. Just different actors.