REVIEW: Whatever Works

15 08 2009

Anyone who keeps up with this blog or knows me well can probably guess that I often identify with Woody Allen and his neurotic characters, for better or worse.  And as soon as I heard that Larry David, one of the creators of “Seinfeld” and the hilarious star of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” was going to be starring in Woody’s latest, I knew they could be a scary pair.  However, David’s Boris Yelnikoff unexpectedly proves to be quite likable.  “Whatever Works,” frankly put, works for me.  It is a light, breezy comedy that doesn’t make you strung out like some of Allen’s (or David’s) other projects.  David provides the caustic quips, but a phenomenal supporting cast is equally funny.

Boris (David) is a misanthropic scholar with the belief that humans are a failed species.  He gets living proof of this when Melody (Evan Rachel Wood, “The Wrestler”) shows up on his doorstep one night.  A naïve and dim-witted down home southern girl, Melody slowly starts to melt Boris’ cold heart.  On the other hand, she also begins to randomly spurt his cynical views about life and humanity to anyone who looks at her.  As their time living together lengthens, there are of course the inevitable run-ins with Melody’s mother Marietta (Patricia Clarkson), who disapproves of her new lifestyle, and her firm father John (Ed Begley, Jr.).  All four characters undergo drastic and hilarious changes in the way they see and live their lives, eventually learning to simply enjoy whatever works for them.

I really cannot sing the praises of Larry David enough for making Boris so lovable despite being a suicidal misanthrope.  He stands out among the normal neurotic leads of Allen’s films.  Evan Rachel Wood is also spellbinding.  Her amazing range astounds me; she can do any movie she wants and steal the show.  The rest of the supporting cast is phenomenal, especially Patricia Clarkson as she turns from the good Southern Christian to a very artistic experimenter.

The script is Woody Allen at his best; in fact, it was written in his golden age during the 1970s.  It is delightfully witty and quite thought-provoking too.  There is good dialogue between Boris and the audience through monologues to the viewers, and I found them quite refreshing and inventive.  “Whatever Works” is a comedy to please anyone with a funny bone.  Even for those who find Allen’s movies too zany for their taste, this possesses a charm uncanny to most of his other works.  A- / 3halfstars

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