Whatever Works


Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by:Woody Allen
Starring: Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, Ed Begley Jr, Conleth Hill, Michael McKean
Released: October 15, 2009
Grade: B+

My movie-going year just wouldn’t be the same without seeing a new Woody Allen movie.  He makes one film a year and I always look forward to buying my ticket.  Ok, so his best stuff is probably behind him but I don’t care.  I can’t help but chuckle at his warped perspectives on everything from religion and politics to life and love.

I was particularly interested in Whatever Works because of its main star – Larry David.  If you don’t know the name, David was a co-creator of the Seinfeld television show – one of the funniest programs to ever appear on the smaller screen.  He saved some of his best jokes for Curb Your Enthusiasm, another successful comedy which is now in its seventh season.  The guy knows how to find humour out of the most trivial of situations.

Many comparisons have been made between Larry David and Woody Allen and it’s no surprise to see them working together here.  David’s character is Boris Yellnikoff, an overly cynical guy who lives alone in New York City.  The first scene of the film sees Boris talking with his friends outside a café.  He’s arguing about anything he can think of.

One evening, he unwillingly finds himself involved in a conversation with a homeless girl outside his apartment building.  Her name is Melodie St. Ann Celestine (Wood) and she’s come to the Big Apple to escape her parents and find independence.  Boris wants nothing to do with her at first but he mellows when he hears her sob-story.  He allows her to stay with him for a few days.

They are polar opposites but their unique personalities start rubbing off on each other.  The naïve Melodie starts subscribing to Boris’s pessimistic life perspectives.  It’s funny because she doesn’t really understand half the stuff that she says.  Boris on the other hand, starts to find happiness.  He’s enjoys living with this vibrant young girl and the fact that she’s so open to his opinions.  It’s an odd relationship but hey… whatever works.

Things get a little too crazy in the later stages with the arrival of Melodie’s mother (Clarkson) and father (Begley Jr) but this still a likeable Woody Allen comedy.  If you like his style, you’re sure to get a few laughs from this.  All the cast are great – deliberately overplaying their roles for comedic effect.  Evan Rachel Wood is particularly good.

There’s a running gag throughout the film where Boris’s character talks to the audience through the camera.  I won’t say too much more but it’s a nice touch.  You’ll find out what I mean when you do what I suggest… and go see Whatever Works at a time and place that works for you.  Whatever.