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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Magnolia Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 89 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Michael Kenneth Williams, Sanaa Lathan, Ally Walker, Jodelle Ferland, Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Written & Directed by: Josh Goldin
Music by: Craig Richey & Dan Zanes
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 16, 2010

"Happiness is a state of mind"

Film Synopsis:

Ben Singer (Matthew Broderick) is a failed children's folksinger, 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 comfort comes from regular chess games and friendly debates with his Senegalese roommate Ibou (Michael Kenneth Williams). When Ibou is struck ill, his sister Khadi (Sanaa Lathan) stays for an extended visit. Her influence helps Ben realize that cynicism may be all a matter of perspective.

My Take:

Ben Singer is a failed children's folk singer that works in a dead end job as a proofreader and is an every-other-weekend dad to his young daughter (Jodelle Ferland), who prefers pretty much anything to listening to her dad's pessimistic ramblings. Struggling in all aspects of his life, Ben's only comforts come from smoking marijuana alone and regular chess games with his smart and opinionated Senegalese roommate Ibou . Ibou is good for Ben and helps to provide a perspective on life that offsets Ben's negativity. When Ibou is suddenly struck ill and must be hospitalized an insensitive municipal employee exacerbates the emergency situation. Angry, Ben pours his energy into a lawsuit against the city for depraved indifference. Ben's life begins to turn around with the arrival of Ibou's beautiful sister Khadi from Senegal, who moves into Ibou's room in Ben's apartment. With Khadi's help Ben begins to suspect that perhaps it is his own cynicism corroding the beauty around him. Maybe he needs to step back and take another look at the world to understand that it's all a matter of perspective.

Wonderful world is billed as a comedy however I disagree. I think it is more of a dramatic film about a guy that has taken on a pessimistic view of the world, perhaps with some justification, after essentially everything (from his perspective) he committed himself to didn't last. His only solace can be found in the company of his roommate Ibou who comes from a small community in Senegal and has an appreciation for life and the opportunities afforded to him since coming to America. Ben's ex-wife (played by Ally Walker) is tough on him and his daughter is a young teen who is dealing with issues of identity/confidence which isn't helped by Ben's negative view on pretty much everything. After he meets Khandi we slowly begin to see a change in his demeanor as she imparts feelings of self worth that he probably has felt in a very long time. This spills over into his relationship with his daughter which helps him to take more of a personal interest in her. The seemingly dead end street that was his life now has avenues that allow him to explore the possibility that if given a chance there is more to life and people.

This isn't an upbeat film but it is an honest one that focuses on a seemingly insignificant individual in need of a lesson in living life rather than letting bitterness dictate who your are. I like Matthew Broderick in this role and felt that he portrayed this character with the right amount of acrimony, callousness, and compassion. He isn't much of a romantic leading man type but I am sure it wasn't hard to be inspired playing opposite the very attractive and talented Sanaa Lathan. I thought that Jodelle Ferland did an excellent job in the role of his daughter Sandra as her performance helped to sell their awkward and disconnected relationship early in the film. Pacing is good as it moves along and makes good use of it 89 minute runtime to draw us into the story. As I stated Wonderful world isn't the kind of film that will leave you laughing but it's a bittersweet and candid drama that I found rewarding.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language, some drug use and sexual content.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 80

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Wonderful world comes to Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.1 mbps.

This is a satisfying high definition video presentation that delivers quality which is on par with a newer release film coming to Blu-ray Disc. Colors appear natural with pleasing depth and an intentionally subdued palette. Complexions are realistically depicted with defining texture, and good tonal separation. Blacks are respectable but don't offer the depth and delineation that make them stand out. Detail in low light and dark backgrounds is estimable. Images offer good dimensional depth, stable sharpness, and definitive clarity but don't expect opulent high level detail and overly vibrant colors. This appears to look exactly as intended which when all is said and done is quite good. The audio presentation is solid and renders the elements present in the soundtrack with aplomb. Dialogue is clearly articulated through the center channel and the film's music holds sway over the front soundstage with authority and crystal clarity. Aural perspective is one dimensional and leans toward the front channels however spatial venue replicating effects and diffuse ambience is fed to the rear channels which provide a limited but effective sense of envelopment.

Bonus Features:

  • As soon as fish fall out of the sky: Character and story of Wonderful world - 4 minute featurette

  • Behind the scenes: Working with writer/director Josh Goldin and actor Matthew Broderick - 1 + minutes

  • Behind the scenes video montage - 1 + minutes

  • (HD) HDNet: A look at Wonderful world - 4 minutes

  • BD-Live enabled

Final Thoughts:

Wonderful world is billed as a comedy however its darker thematic elements and serious subject matter give it a dramatic tone that rarely elicits humor. That shouldn't be construed as a negative as I found it to be an honest film that depicts how life can sometimes get us down and keep us there unless we opt to derive what we can from the worst of times and perhaps see the glass as half full rather than half empty. I found its bittersweet story and the performances by the cast to be rewarding. Magnolia Home Entertainment has done a fine job with its presentation on Blu-ray Disc as it looks great and features good lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound quality. Too bad the lackluster bonus supplements don't keep pace. Wonderful world is worth checking out and makes for a very decent rental on movie night.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen

Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)

Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

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SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
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