Ordinary, everyday, irritable, disagreeable, mournful, miserable New Yorkers course through the five stories of “The Great New Wonderful.” Nerves are frayed. Ambitions seem less than solid. Tragedy seems around the corner. Grief is everywhere. Why? Try the opening title: “September 2002.” A likeably talky post-“Magnolia” layer cake of after-9/11 miserabilism, cleanly directed by Danny Leiner (“Dude, Where’s My Car?,” “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle”) from a script by playwright Sam Catlin, “The Great New Wonderful” has a cast to live for, including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Edie Falco, Olympia Dukakis, Judy Greer, Tom McCarthy, Jim Gaffigan, Naseeruddin Shah, Tom Ford, Tony Kushner and the always-brilliant Tony Shalhoub as a calculating grief counselor. If politicians are ready to exploit 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11, artists should have no fear of exploring the repercussions of that day’s events, and Leiner’s patterning of lives that don’t quite overlap, but who share space and a particular memory, is powerful and, in some of the moments with Shalhoub, Falco and Greer, close enough to sublime. Or, as Harold puts it in in “Harold and Kumar,” “This is either a really smart move or by far the stupidest thing that we have ever tried.” (They were only about to ride a cheetah.) 88m. (Ray Pride)
“The Great New Wonderful” opens Friday at Siskel for a week.