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Whatever Works (2009)



Average Rating: 5.4/10
Reviews Counted: 160
Fresh: 79 | Rotten: 81

Based upon a script written in the 1970s, Woody Allen's Whatever Works suffers from a lack of fresh ideas.


Average Rating: 4.9/10
Critic Reviews: 44
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 30

Based upon a script written in the 1970s, Woody Allen's Whatever Works suffers from a lack of fresh ideas.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 39,264

My Rating

Movie Info

An eccentric New Yorker abandons his upper class life to lead a more bohemian existence. He meets a young girl from the south and her family and no two people seem to get along in the entanglements that follow.


Comedy, Romance

Woody Allen

Oct 27, 2009


Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on Whatever Works

June 18, 2009:
Critics Consensus: Year One Fails To Beget Laughs
This week at the movies, we've got Biblical bloopers (Year One, starring Jack Black and Michael...
May 10, 2009:
Trailer Bulletin: Whatever Works
Larry David steps in as Woody Allen's latest on-screen surrogate in "Whatever Works," due out June...


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All Critics (161) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (79) | Rotten (81) | DVD (7)

For all its wobbles, Whatever Works is rooted in an agreeable sensibility: life favours fate over luck more than we'd like to think, so grab whatever chances of happiness come your way.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

All rather mellow and predictable.

October 15, 2009 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National
Top Critic IconTop Critic

After the fiercely enjoyable Vicky Christina Barcelona, this return to New York City is a letdown, though not without a few charms.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The result is a witty, well-played work without an adequate center. If you can get past that, Whatever Works does.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comments (2)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whatever Works isn't topnotch Woody Allen, but it's still immensely funny.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Comment (1)
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whatever Works isn't deep, but with Grandpa Woody, you accept the warmed over, the recycled, just relieved he hasn't made a spectacle of himself.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Comment (1)
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's just no real soul to Boris, no hint of the mania behind his crazed, neurotic worldview, no inherent and implied backstory that a skilled actor can provide. David is game and does his best, but let's call this what it is: Stunt casting.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

This gleefully ironic comic fable feels different in tone from the likes of Vicky Christina Barcelona and Match Point. Woody has dusted off an old screenplay from the early 1970s that he'd originally written for Zero Mostel, shelved when the star died.

July 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Talk
Movie Talk

Whatever works está llena de momentos geniales y divertidos, pero también de cierta humanidad en sus personajes que suele ser disfrazada de sarcasmo. Un verdadero show de Larry David, gentileza de Woody Allen.

April 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Woody Allen's comedy doesn't work- on any level.

December 29, 2010 Full Review Source:

People cynically walk into so much expecting disappointment - auditoriums showing Woody Allen's annual crapshoot, for example. Sometimes, they get expected middling results. Sometimes, as with Allen's 30-year-old script, they get unanticipated surprises.

December 2, 2010 Full Review Source:

The heart of the film belongs to Wood, Clarkson and Begley Jr., and they provide the biggest laughs. Watching their Southern-charm slowly transformed (corrupted?) by the emotional/artistic/erotic flavours of New York City is a typical Allen-esque treat.

October 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Quickflix

Even when delivering something of a regression, as this film is, (Allen) still packs more laughs and ideas into a film than most filmmakers do into a career.

July 4, 2010

Even diehard fans might find it a bit of a chore.

June 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

It won't win Allen new converts, but for those of faith, it offers consolation.

June 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian

Whatever Works is a welcome return to Allen's New York roots and enjoyable insofar as it is far wittier than most modern comedies, but it lacks anything fresh to say.

June 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

David might be plugging a gap between Curb series, but Allen can do better.

June 25, 2010
Little White Lies

Whatever Works works.

June 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo

What's Woody Allen's worst film? Look no further.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Tragically making Vicky Cristina Barcelona look like a happy accident, Whatever Works is retro Allen that smacks of desperation.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

It's not classic Woody Allen, despite him writing it 40 years ago, but you'll be fairly entertained.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post

The rhythm of comedy dialogue has changed, yet Allen executes his script in a manner that leaves the cast swimming in a piece that feels curiously dated, like it's a lost picture from yesteryear.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Digital Spy
Digital Spy

Allen showed us better than anyone what the good times really look like. We can't quite give up on that. We never will.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Great news! Woody Allen has extended his run of decent films! To two!

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: News of the World
News of the World

There's an abundance of incisive one-liners and embittered tirades, with David bringing a new caustic flavour to Allen's nebbish alter ego, and if the action is occasionally contrived and stagy, it's mostly amusing and assured.

June 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Audience Reviews for Whatever Works

Hardly Woody at his best. Larry David is annoying almost beyond endurance.
July 8, 2014
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

This film teaters on the fine line between interesting and strange. I may have a different outlook on this movie than other because I am a huge fan of Larry David, but overall the movie was just okay. It is a decent watch if you are in a cynical mood, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see it. It has a few moments of intrigue and humor, but it is hardly worth anyone's time.
June 23, 2013
Sanjay Rema

Super Reviewer

I feel like fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm would see nothing in this film that they haven't before, but thankfully, I'm not one of them, so the misanthropy of Larry David (as channeled through the character he plays) was a bit of a revelation to me. But more importantly, I found myself unable to take my eyes off Evan Rachel Wood's character throughout - she's just so sweet, and she's a perfect foil for the curmudgeon that reluctantly lets her live in his apartment with her. A simple story that's really about learning how the other side lives, and about opening your mind and trying new things, it's not quite as lovably madcap as Allen's best but it's still rather enjoyable... if you can get through the opening tirade from David. Using an actor to externalize the worst aspects of the cranky old man Allen (may fear he) is turning into was a smart choice, and it allows for a particular wink and nod in the last scene that I won't reveal, one, because I don't want to spoil it, and, two, because I waited too long between watching this and writing up the review, so I don't remember it exactly, only that I really liked it, which I suppose means I'll have to watch the film again. There are worse movies to have to sit through twice... many of them. It can't be Manhattan every time out, but Allen's still got it. See this film. See all his films.
January 11, 2013

Super Reviewer

An old New York (Jewish) cynic marries a Southern Baptist blonde ... hilarity ensues. Or that's the general presumption. But Allen threw this goof light together in an hour, if that, and could hardly care what you think about it and says so, right to the camera, in the first five minutes. Goof light.
July 3, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Boris Yellnikoff: See, I'm the only one who sees the whole picture. That's what they mean by genius.
    – Submitted by Lyberis D (21 months ago)
    1. Boris Yellnikoff: On paper we're ideal, but life isn't on paper.
    – Submitted by Nastassia J (21 months ago)
    1. Howard: Oh Lord, forgive me for I have committed the sin of self indulgence
    2. Boris Yellnikoff: Why do all the religious fanatics end up praying on my door step?
    – Submitted by Beverly S (2 years ago)
    1. Boris Yellnikoff: [clutching his heart, complaining as usual from a night sweat panic induced attack, he gripes to Melody as she is trying to find a soothing TV channel] I have SEEN THE ABYSS!
    2. Melody: Well, that's alright, darlin, we can watch somethin' else!
    – Submitted by Beverly S (2 years ago)
    1. Melody: What are you genius at?
    2. Boris Yellnikoff: Quantum mechanics.
    3. Melody: Yeah, but what field? Like, music?
    – Submitted by Carol M (2 years ago)
    1. Melody: What are you genius at?
    2. Boris Yellnikoff: Quantum mechanics.
    3. Melody: Yeah, but what field? Like, music?
    – Submitted by Carol M (2 years ago)
View all quotes (6)

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