Ah, the Matthew Broderick stoner movie. Ferris Bueller all grown up: divorced, disappointed, a weekend father, looking chubby and unshaven, waking and baking in a low-rent apartment he shares with a cheerful Senegalese roomie (Michael K. Williams). Weaned on Neil Simon plays, Broderick has always been a much better actor than his adult movie roles would suggest. Here he's utterly unsentimental and completely plausible as an ex-musician whose temp job as a legal proofreader has somehow extended to eight years. (And now his daughter is 11—dude, wake up!) "At least I don't delude myself with hopes and dreams," Broderick tells his younger temp colleagues (all aspiring actors and comics, this being L.A.). The curmudgeon thing works for Broderick, but the rest of Joshua Goldin's debut as writer and director is a moldy dramedy casserole. A medical crisis afflicts the roomie, bringing his warm, wise sister from Africa (Sanaa Lathan), who says things like "Magic is everywhere." It's that kind of movie. Worse, Broderick must reconnect with his daughter, mount a Frank Capra courtroom crusade, and receive pointless THC visitations from "the Man" (Philip Baker Hall). Wonderful World is only smart enough to recognize that one multiculti fling won't save Broderick from drowning in his bongwater. Whatever else it's trying to say—that's just seeds and stems.
Broderick trades spleef for guitar.
Opens at Varsity, Fri., Jan. 15. Rated R. 95 minutes.