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Whatever Works
Whatever Works
Actors: Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, Conleth Hill, Ed Begley Jr.
Director: Woody Allen
Genres: Comedy
PG-13     2009     1hr 32min

A sarcastic and bitter middle-aged New York man meets a young woman who has run away from her home in the South, and lets her stay with him.


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Movie Details

Actors: Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, Conleth Hill, Ed Begley Jr.
Director: Woody Allen
Genres: Comedy
Sub-Genres: Romantic Comedies, Woody Allen, Woody Allen
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 10/27/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 32min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

In the end
C. R. Palma | Portugal | 08/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

""In the end, the romantic aspirations of our youth are reduced to "whatever works"..."
This is brilliant. I've seen the movie twice and laughed heartily both times. Maybe religious people have a hard time with humor, which would explain the low ratings that have been given here. But I think laughter is the best remedy for a happy life - don't take yourselves too seriously, folks!
"I see the big picture".
More appropriate as a made-for-TV movie.
Tom Brody | Berkeley, CA | 10/12/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)

"WHATEVER WORKS is a drama taking place in a middle-class residential neighborhood in New York City, complete with Jewish delicatessens and art galleries. This type of neighborhood is familiar to me, as I have toured the SoHo district in lower Manhattan many times. In part, because of this, the storyline of WHATEVER WORKS was continually fascinating to me. The film takes place in the present day, that is, circa 2009.

In brief, a runaway girl materializes on the doorstep of a retired physics professor. The professor is a confirmed curmudgeon and, to some extent, a misanthrope. His manner of speech takes the form of amusing 1-liners, regarding the fruitlessness of human society. The professor takes the girl in, and she lives with him, and they have a sort of father/daughter relationship. Over the course of weeks, the girl adopts the same speech patterns as the professor, and she spews out the same amusing 1-liners about the futility of human society. The girl's father and mother, both devoted Christians, split up prior to the girl's running away from home. The problem was that the father was having an affair with another woman.

The girl is from the American South, and prefers Louisiana-style cooking, and has a southern accent. About half-way into the movie, the girl's mother materializes at the front door of the professor's house. Unexpectedly, the mother quickly adopts to the lifestyle of New York City, and her collection of casual family snapshots is "discovered" by an art critic, and the mother has an art exhibition in a gallery (not an exhibition in a mere coffeeshop). Also, the mother acquires two boyfriends. One of the boyfriends is a middle-aged man who is a philosophy professor. Towards the end of the movie, the girl's father materializes at the front door of the professor's house. He also, came is search of the runaway daughter. As the man's character develops, during the remaining thirty or so minutes of the film, he discovers that he is really gay, and he quickly develops a gay relationship with a man he finds in a tavern.

On the plus side, the film takes place in New York City and concerns art galleries. By the same token, this is one of the reasons I liked another movie, AS GOOD AS IT GETS. Also on the plus side, the actress playing the girl is abundantly easy on the eye. But on the minus side, WHATEVER WORKS is fraught with improbabilities. First of all, it is not often that an astonishingly beautiful girl shows up on a man's doorsteps, as a runaway. Second, it is not often that a 20-year old girl marries a 70-year old man who is a retired professor (that is what happens in WHATEVER WORKS). Third, it is not often that a southern housewife is promoted as a photographer, on the basis of her "portfolio" of casual family snapshots. Fourth, it is not often that a physics professor tries twice to commit suicide (that's what happens in WHATEVER WORKS). To conclude, this movie consists of a re-cycling of things that Woody Allen likes and finds dear (younger girlfriends, New York City art galleries, talking about existentialism in ordinary conversations). We have seen the same themes, again and again, since the 1970s. (There is nothing wrong with this, per se.) The contrived marriage of the 70-year old man with the 20-year old girl, obviously mirrors Woody Allen's own marriage to a woman (Soon-Yi) who is thirty years younger than himself.

WHATEVER WORKS could very well be the very best of all of the Woody Allen films that utilize the above collection of themes. But on the other hand, what prevents this movie from having much more value than a typical made-for-TV movie, is that fact that it consists of a studied melange of incoherent and incompatible things, squeezed and forced together, into a single storyline. (Also, this movie is NOT a comedy. There is nothing here to make you laugh. The movie is merely amusing.) Perhaps the only believable part of WHATEVER WORKS, is the professor's schmoozing with his friends, at a sidewalk coffeeshop. In fact, if the entire movie had taken place on the sidewalk table, at the coffeeshop, documented the conversations of three mature men, I might have given the film FIVE STARS. In other words, if this movie was more like, MY DINNER WITH ANDRE (it seemed at the beginning to be a bit like My Dinner With Andre), then that would have been fine with me.

The star of this movie is Mr. Larry David. Mr. David is one of the most successful people in the history of Hollywood, having been one of the founders of the SEINFELD show, and having written 62 episodes of SEINFELD. However, if the movie WHATEVER WORKS does not (in my opinion) work as a coherent piece of drama, then it is also my opinion that it is that it is a THREE STAR or, at most, a FOUR STAR film."