Whatever Works (2009)
Whatever Works (2009)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 32 min.

Release Date: June 19th, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Woody Allen Actors: Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, Ed Begley Jr, Michael McKean

 


 

A

perfect blend of Woody Allen’s views on love and relationships and Larry David’s pessimism toward life and the imbecilic, “Whatever Works” certainly won’t appeal to those who can’t find humor in the morbid recesses and sarcastic ranting of these two comedians’ minds. But everyone else will revel in the darkly misanthropic philosophies. Though this perverse fable may wrap up a little too neatly for those less inclined to believe in optimism for such an ensemble of decadent misfits, viewers with the right amount of indifference towards decency won’t object, as long as they aren’t one of the mindless zombie masses so scathingly scolded in the cynical social commentary.

Attempting to impress his ideologies on religion, relationships, and the randomness (and worthlessness) of existence, lifelong New York resident Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) harangues to anyone who will listen, including the audience. But when he begrudgingly allows naive Mississippi runaway Melodie St. Ann Celestine (Evan Rachel Wood) to live in his apartment, his reclusive rages give way to an unlikely friendship. Boris begins to mold the impressionable young girl’s worldly views to match his own. When it comes to love, “whatever works” is his motto, but his already perplexed life complicates itself further when Melodie’s parents eventually track her down.

It may be written by Woody Allen, but it certainly feels like Larry David’s material. Regardless of who is channeling who, the biting humor in the film is simply hilarious; it’s surprising how much fun can be had from watching a character who positively abhors life, people, and interaction. Boris may not be relatable, but he’s wickedly skeptical and intelligently despicable. The conclusion may be a bit too tidy to be interpreted as much more than a sardonic comedy, but the amusing supporting actors and clever dialogue create a set of disillusioned protagonists that are easy to watch.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is the odd-couple pairing of elderly Yellnikoff and the hopelessly naïve twenty-something Melodie. Extreme differences in age and social standings have been explored in Allen’s previous films, but both characters are so delightfully polar opposites that seeing them together is uniquely refreshing. They’re two runaways on a mission to fulfill the illusion of meaning, one a self-proclaimed brainiac, the other a foolish, feeble-minded cretin with a heart of gold. Add to that the nonstop sophomoric tirades on religion, sexuality, mortality, marriage, the presidency, racism, human existence, and chess, and moviegoers are treated to an overload of pessimistic insights posing as genius. It may not be a feel good movie, but it’s convincingly ridiculous and it absolutely works.

– The Massie Twins

  • 7/10