Whatever Works Reviews
If you're in the mood for a giggle, check it out but only if you haven't see
Sleeper, Annie Hall, Bananas, Love & Death, Zelig, Crime & Misdemeanors or Manhattan.
Boris: Holocaust Museum!
I liked it. Mainly because I'm a fan of David's show Curb Your Enthusiasm. Some parts I laughed so hard I was crying. Highly recommended if you are a fan of David or Woody Allen.
Here's the thing, the movie is pretty funny, but not hilarious; since everything in it seems so outdated, it's hard to take seriously. There are some pretty good jokes and gags though. Probably the best is David insulting the people he tries to teach chess to, calling them cretins and imbeciles and the like- students who are about 8-9 years old.
The acting is passable, but the dialogue and staging (as noted by others) is really awkwardly staged. This would probably work better as a play. Also, it should probably be a bit longer since it all seems very rushed and undercooked.
I feel bad not giving a Woody Allen film more than a mixed review that ultimately ends in not really recommending it, but everyone screws up. It's just worse when this isn't the first time in Allen's case. Please note though that this is only the third film of his I've seen as of this moment.
Whatever Works may be a clunker, but it's a charming clunker. I expected a pairing between Woody Allen and Larry David to be an absolute home-run, especially with people like Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, and Ed Begley, Jr. joining in on the fun. It didn't live up to that expectation. What I got instead was a somewhat enjoyable movie where Woody went a little overboard with pushing his typical themes with the bluntness of a brick.
The main character Boris is a typical Allen creation, but pushed to the very extreme. He's like Larry David's character from Curb, except stripped of any likable characteristics. His relationship with Melody (Evan Rachel Wood in a great performance) just seems flat-out preposterous because of his personality. Wood, on the other hand, is one of the few likable characters in the movie. Her charming southern belle is a nice counterpoint to the boorishness of Boris, but her off-the-wall accent and exaggerated personality will get quite a few chuckles from anyone who has actually lived in Mississippi.
So yeah, I didn't hate this. I just don't know who I would recommend it to. The story never goes much further than Melody showing up and shaking up Boris's life, and then her parents arriving and doing the same for both of them. Whatever Works is an odd movie that tries to portray a message, but muddles and fumbles with it from beginning to end. A good performance from Wood was really the main thing that keeps me from putting this near the bottom of the Woody Allen movies that I've seen.