Whatever Works (2009) Woody Allen

Production Budget: $15 million
Gross: $5 million

Boris (Larry David) is a genius physicist who is pessimistic but at the same time completely neurotic and fearful of dying.  He meets a young runaway Melodie (Even Rachel Wood) and Boris lets her stay at his house.  They are complete opposites but they fall in love and marry.  Can their love last and what happens which Melodie’s parent’s come to New York for her?

People compare this to Woody’s earlier work for several reasons.  First, this was a reworked screenplay from his Annie Hall days.  A lot of the same rants you heard from those days come back up again here.  It also follows the Woody theme of an older man falling for a younger woman.  Larry David is actually a breath of fresh air for the typical “Woody” performance.  Woody was at times a little too nebbish and spineless and can be annoying to people.  Larry is kind of like George Carlin with a touch of hypochondria.  He is an asshole who is unafraid to speak his mind.  It’s kind of funny actually to watch his friends who know him (that he’s not harmful) and just let him rant.

This is at the same time different from other Woody pictures.  Here the characters are amped up and almost caricatures.  Melodie is a southern belle with a thick accent who talks about crawfish and beauty pageants and Boris is an asshole pessimist who calls everyone a worm and a moron and so on and so on.  Woody kind of tells the audience it’s not serious (and almost a tv show) when Boris immediately breaks the fourth wall.  That can take people out of it.  Trust me, this plot is not grounded in any sort of reality.  There are plot points that if you take it seriously you will bang your head against a wall.  This is a farce; it is playful and not meant to be real. I just think you have to know what you are getting into.  I just listen to the funny dialog and little rants and enjoy myself.

Now this movie doesn’t always work.  Sometimes the tone is a little too out there, sometimes the scenes drag when the jokes don’t quite work, and sometimes Boris can be too dickish.  But like I said, the movie never takes itself too seriously and everything is generally light hearted and in good spirits.  I did like this movie and it’s a good movie for Allen.  I think the recommendation is rather obvious.  If you like Woody, then I think you will go for this.  It’s not one of his classics, but a fun movie.

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