Whatever Works - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Whatever Works Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 21, 2010
Larry David may not be the best choice for the role of Woody Allen's alter-ego, but the film's script, written in the 1970s, is a refreshing return to the first half of Allen's career and to his beloved New York after the movies he made in London and Spain.
Super Reviewer
December 20, 2009
Hardly Woody at his best. Larry David is annoying almost beyond endurance.
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2013
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.
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2009
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.
Super Reviewer
½ July 3, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2009
Larry David stars in this Woody Allen off beat comedy. Based in New York, an upper class guy leaves his wife for a more chilled out existence. He befriends and helps a homeless girl and his life changes again. Interesting characters.
Super Reviewer
½ July 9, 2011
While I don't believe ANY of the things in the movie would ever happen (other than because the script said so) I can't say I wasn't entertained, and I can't say I didn't laugh. I was and did on both counts.

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.
Super Reviewer
July 2, 2011
Mom: Where should I go for fun with my daughter?
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.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2009
Henry was in it ,I can not be too harsh :P
Super Reviewer
February 18, 2011
This isn't as bad as I was led to believe, but it's not terrible either. Honestly, I think the only major problem (but it's a big one) is that Woody is just way too out of touch with the world. Either that, or we as a society went off the rails at some point, and are the wrong ones, we are the ones who drifted away from Woody's wavelength and into the type of world that Lsrry David's character rips on.

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.
Super Reviewer
December 23, 2010
Another thoroughly enjoyable film from the great Woody Allen and one which is brilliantly written, witty and incredibly insightful. A film which is back to his usual New York setting and contains a brilliant performance by Evan Rachel Wood. Full credit goes to Allen for casting the truly lovely Henry Cavill...mmmmmmmm. Highly recomended
Super Reviewer
½ November 28, 2010
Felt like old school misanthropic Allen filtered through David, his obvious modern day cipher. Some whip smart lines and able support from Clarkson help to balance the implausible central relationship between David and Wood, and Wood is sweetly charming. Trite ending is a cop out, however.
Super Reviewer
½ November 2, 2010
I have to see it again, but I say that for Woody Allen and Larry David, this is B+ because it's solid but exactly what you'd expect, no avant garde surprises. Definitely funny and well worth watching. Imagine Allen directs David in a post post-modern spin of Manhattan. It's 92 minutes well spent.
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2009
"I don't have anywhere to go. And if you throw me out and I wind up an Asian prostitute, that's gonna be on your conscience."

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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2010
I probably enjoyed this more than I should have. I like movies about relationships, and I like movies with interconnected characters, and this movie has both. But it felt contrived - it is a movie for our enjoyment, not about the real world. But for 90 minutes of escape, watch it.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
½ January 30, 2010
Middling "Whatever" only works when Clarkson is on the screen.
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2010
I'll tell you what didn't work!
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2009
not woodys best work. an incredibly self indulgent portrait of a shallow worldview, abusing tired and incredibly fallacious stereotypes. i actually laughed out loud 2 or 3 times, but there was ultimately nothing redeemable in this film full of contrived characters, weak acting, and boring camera work.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2010
Although competently made and featuring some great scenes with clever dialogue, this self-loving farce begins to wear out it's welcome in it's final stages, pushing its liberal, free-loving spirit a bit to far down it's audience's throats, leaving one gagging at it's extraordinary pathetic conclusion. You would think this movie would be good, bordering on brilliant, considering it's directed by Woody Allen and stars the very well-liked Larry David, sadly it's just a misfire, one that tries to be lovable but ends up being near repulsive and not extremely memorable. Maybe Woody should stick to his European filming, it worked beautifully in "Match Point", and his last movie taking place in New York was the very forgettable "Melinda and Melinda".
Super Reviewer
January 9, 2010
First and foremost, I am a huge fan of Larry David and enjoy most of Woody Allen's films, so thought that this would be a match made in heaven for me. But then I watched the film. I will say that Larry David impressed me with his acting chops in this film and thought he did a little bit more than just play his TV version of his real self. There is also the absolutely gorgeous Evan Rachel Wood who also plays her character to a tee, but with a realistic arc that makes her even more attractive. And here is where the problems start. I put the fact that Larry being with Evan to the back of my conscience to enjoy the film, but watching her walk around in next to nothing and with her hair in pigtails, made me feel dirty and imagining Woody rubbing one out while they did the scenes. Then there is the obvious, almost preachy slant the movie has (look, just because it's liberal, doesn't make it right to be so heavy handed. I would feel the same way about the Zucker Bros. Micheal Moore spoof they did). And then comes the ending which is absolutely atrocious and just plain lazy. The movie is not devoid of funny moments and looks gorgeous (great to see Allen shooting in New York again), but it fails miserably as a whole.
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