Zooey Deschanel & Paul Dano star in this funny, surreal love story. Toronto Film Fest premiere.
The Great New Wonderful
Who says the aftermath of 9/11 can’t be heartwarming and funny? Set in New York in the wake of the terrorist attacks, Danny Leiner’s film interweaves multiple stories that offer glimpses into the lives of the city’s diverse citizens. The ensemble cast includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Tony Shalhoub, Will Arnett, Edie Falco, Jim Parsons, Stephen Colbert, Judy Greer, Jim Gaffigan and Olympia Dukakis.
At this point, it's a cliché to point out that there's a fine line between comedy and tragedy. Still, many viewers will be surprised to learn that the director of seminal stoner comedies tackled the September 11th attacks as a subject. It's even more surprising that director Danny Leiner told a comedic story about the aftermath of the deadliest day in American history. So how does the humorous tone of this film affect your understanding of 9/11? Would it had been more interesting if Leiner had taken a more irreverent approach similar to his stoner films? Is humor the best means to deal with unimaginable tragedies, or should filmmakers stick to more realistic and dramatic approaches like Paul Greengrass's United 93?
Not only is this one of the first feature films to tackle the September 11th attacks, but it’s also directed by the guy who made the stoner classics Dude, Where's My Car? and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Danny Leiner may not seem like the most logical choice to make a film about New Yorkers dealing with the worst terrorist attacks in American history, but the Brooklyn native shows the same sensitivity that managed to humanize the drug-induced absurdity of his earlier films. The film’s screenwriter, Sam Catlin, later worked on a little show called Breaking Bad and created the hit series Preacher, bringing a Golden Age of Television sensibility to the film’s multiple storylines. The film’s talented cast also includes Tom McCarthy – the acclaimed writer/director of The Station Agent and Spotlight – as well as a cameo by the legendary playwright Tony Kushner as himself.
Danny Leiner, the film's director, sadly passed away at the age of 57 in 2018 after a battle with lung cancer.