The Great New Wonderful represents a major departure for director Danny Leiner in that it doesn't feature two perpetually stoned young men having outlandish adventures - or even one, for that matter. But the characters in the new film from the guy who made Dude, Where's My Car? and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle are, at least, walking around in a haze. They're all New Yorkers trying to get by in the wake of September 11, 2001, casually crossing paths in a series of stories that take place about a year after that devastating day.

These stories are not particularly confrontational, though they have their share of breakdowns and even occasional violence. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Emme, a rising star in the obscure but apparently high-stakes world of designer cakes; Sandie (Jim Gaffigan) is a World Trade Center survivor who's meeting with a corporate therapist (Tony Shalhoub); two parents (Judy Greer and Thomas McCarthy) bicker about their antisocial young son; an elderly woman (Olympia Dukakis) flirts with escaping the dead-silent routine of her long marriage; and a pair of bodyguards (Naseeruddin Shah and Sharat Saxena) traipse around the city for an Indian political figure. If any of these stories sound like they could be stripped-down plays, with many characters standing neatly in pairs, it's probably because writer-actor Sam Catlin developed some of these ideas on stage.

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