Matthew Broderick Hides Behind Beard in Wonderful World

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Wonderful World
Written and directed by Joshua Goldin
Magnolia Pictures
Opens January 8

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Ben Singer (Matthew Broderick), once the third-biggest kids' musician in the country, is now the number-one grump of an unnamed city that's played by Shreveport, Louisiana, where writer-director Joshua Goldin's feature debut was shot, and which also doubles, later in the film, as Dakar, Senegal. More impoverished than the budget is Wonderful World's script, a shopworn tale of redemption in which the constantly outraged, pot-puffing misanthrope learns that "magic is everywhere." Alienating his legal-proofreader co-workers and even his 11-year-old daughter, Sandra (Jodelle Ferland), with his bilious indignation, Ben softens in the company of his Senegalese roommate and chess partner, Ibu (Michael K. Williams), who soon exits the movie in a diabetic coma, though his work in the rehabilitation of Ben's soul will be quickly picked up by his sister, Khadi (Sanaa Lathan). It's heartbreaking to see Lathan, an underemployed actress whose talents were last put to good use in 2006's Something Else, in such a ridiculous, impossible role, falling into bed with repugnant Ben and teaching Sandra West African dance. And Broderick looks as if he wants to hide permanently behind his three-day growth.

 
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