WHATEVER WORKS is a brilliant rant by Woody Allen hating a lot of things in life and channeling it through Larry David who by the way plays himself despite his character Boris. Come to think about it, at times it feels like watching a movie version of Curb Your Enthusiasm. And just like the title itself,… the point of the story is what being a liberal is all about, whatever the hell makes you happy. It’s funny, smart, sometimes a bit preachy but filled with witty remarks and excellent reactions that take you by surprise. WHATEVER WORKS is an invitation to adapt to New York culture, leave your uptight ass at home.
Not much acting on the part of Larry David, those of us who religiously watch the hilarious HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm will be treated with the same personality again. As Boris Yellnikoff, Larry does his usual thing, he’s bitter, grumpy, obnoxious, speaks his mind and has a bunch of rituals based on what he believes is smart while other people around him are idiots. I’m not saying Larry can’t act, I’m just saying he’s not bringing anything new to the table but that’s exactly what Woody Allen has been looking for. Boris is the lead that becomes the propeller for the changes of the particular Southern people who encounter him. While he himself is constantly dealing with his own ‘Whatever Works’ theory, without realizing it, he’s affecting the characters around him who slowly but surely adapt to that theory and take it to heart. I really enjoy how Allen makes Boris talk to the audience, kinda gives the impression that he’s so genius, he’s out of his mind.. you think!
Audiences who are conservative might find it difficult to enjoy this movie because clearly Woody Allen, through his brand of comedy, is trying very hard to convert us into thinking his way, the liberal point of view. What I always admire about Allen is his writing. Granted, I’m not a big fan of all his movies but WHATEVER WORKS brings back his trademark. His humor lies in the collision between logic and ignorance. Evan Rachel Wood’s character Melodie and her mother Marietta, played by Patricia Clarkson are from the South and boy Allen milks the stereotype of narrow mindedness and religious fanatics down to the last drop! Marietta or Melodie would express what they know and quickly Boris would reply with comments suggesting that city people know better, or in this case he knows better.
Allen’s movies including this are all about conversations and I’m not talking about the Tarantino type, the dialogue between Allen’s characters in WHATEVER WORKS, as outrageous as they might sound, makes an awful lot of sense when you think about ‘em twice. Once again, you’ll be amazed at the choice of words Allen puts in Boris’ arrogant lines. Whether it’s a subject of Jews getting it worse than the blacks, or America hating foreigners, or trying to explain why God doesn’t exist, Allen injects every inch with rich adjectives that will make their way into your brain even if you try to resist.
Patricia Clarkson gives a Best Supporting performance in WHATEVER WORKS, her transition from a Bible follower to a manage-a-trois artist is intensely appealing. Evan Rachel Woods is definitely one of the most talented young actresses today, I thought she got snubbed for her role in The Wrestler. As the beautiful but dumbwit naive Melodie, Evan Rachel Wood is irresistible.
I can’t say enough that WHATEVER WORKS is a hilarious entertaining film. It’s not slapstick,.. it’s intellectual and for those who are ‘fast on their feet’. Allen reminds us again that relationships, whether declining or developing, take time. His characters become who they are in they are in the end after months, even a year. Some things are not meant to be, some things move on while others find each other when you least expect it, but hey, whatever works.