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4.0 out of 5 stars
Whatever Works [DVD] [2010]
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2011
Having spent 55 years dreading the big Six-0, decided to be a big boy and embrace it with open arms. So, hired a cinema and cafe-bar for the evening and invited 50 or so friends and family to come and share my Desert Island Mystery Film... The title, 'Whatever Works' more or less sums up my philosophy and, if not the greatest movie ever made, it certainly proved a real delight with us all. Larry David is brilliant as Boris, hitting just the right balance between despair, misery, cynicism and the grudging generosity to give life another chance. One for the middle aged and older, methinks, probably wasted on the young.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2010
this is not everyone's cup of tea - the underlying philosophy of
futility with comfort is presented bluntly and unflinchingly. if you
resonate with the philosophy and the general tenor of woody Allen's
matured take on life, then it's a non-stop chuckle from start to
finish. despite the fundamentally bleak view of human life (and humanity) it still finds and retrieves a positive way out (as summarised in the title).

not sure why Allen offered the part to David instead of just doing it himself - in any event, both do their job brilliantly. very simply done, the craft is sharp and scintillating - a diamond. possibly helps if you're close to Allen's and David's current age bracket too.

as for negative comments in certain quarters about it being 'unnatural' - yes, it's art!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2011
I'm a big Woody Allen fan and I always hope his new films are going to be as good as his classics and this one almost is. Whatever Works most closely resembles Manhatten, Mighty Aphrodite and Anything Else but is fast moving, funny and different enough to not really notice the similarities so much. Larry David is fantastic as an even more grumpy and depressed character than how he is in Curb Your Enthusiasm, but is still very likeable and entertaining throughout the movie. The rest of the cast are also very good especially Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Junior. Michael Mckean is sadly underused but you do get some scenes with future Superman Henry Cavill.
Of Woody Allens more recent films I'd give Small Time Crooks 4 out of 5, Curse of the Jade Scorpion 4 out of 5, Anything Else 4 out of 5, Melinda and Melinda 3 out of 5, Matchpoint 3 out of 5, Scoop 4.5 out of 5, Cassandara's Dream 1 out of 5, Vicky Christina Barcelona 2 out of 5, and Whatever Works 4.2 out of 5.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2011
It's become fashionable to deride the later Woody Allen movies and some reviews slated this film, but I thought it was very enjoyable, with the sort of clever plot twists which have made Woody Allen's films so original. Perhaps it is slightly eclectic, in that it uses many of the older routines from other Woody Allen movies, but Larry David is good, though I am no fan of his acting on the whole. The theme of the older man and the younger woman is also not new but put together in a memorably original way. The photography and visual qualities of the film are excellent as is the acting. Once again I think Woody Allen is at his best in a New York setting, his British attempt such as Match Point falling well sort of this standard.
This is a film I would happily sit through again and confirms my view that Woody Allen is one of the most original and distinguished film makers alive today, that is if you enjoy films of ideas and complex human relationships rather than stereotypes
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I am no Woody sycophant so I can be scathing about some of my favourite director's films; Celebrity, Hollywood Ending and Cassandra's Dream immediately coming to mind. I also understand that Woody is well past his prime so I get incredibly nervous when I see a new film of his.

Despite it's flaws; this is a delight from start to finish. another of Allen's subtle, easy-going romantic comedies with a good dose of philosophy added; a type of film which he can write in his sleep.

This time pessimistic Larry David invites naive Evan Rachel Wood to stay after she arrives in New York from the south. She takes on his world view that life is pointless but eventually realises that even if this is so you may as well be part of life and not withdraw from it; whatever works to make you happy is the simple message of the film.

David may be the lead but it is Wood's quirky hicksville comes to big city character that steals the film. The arrival of her parents save it; Woody switching his hatred of the east coast to the south; basically saying that all southerners are sexually repressed!

However I did find Larry David's character a little unrealistic (uhum Woody would have done so much better 15 years ago) while I couldn't really understand Wood's later attraction to the smug Cavill!

Some may see it as a contrived storyline to push the philosophy of the film which while on the one hand is true this shouldn't be seen as a negative.

A delight but nothing special.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2011
I am already a fan of Woody Allen's films, so was hoping that I would like this film and I wasn't disappointed. Larry David filled Woody's shoes very well in the role of Boris. The script was, as usual verbose, funny and thoughtful. It was hard to disagree with much that came out of Boris' mouth and like another reviewer said, if you watch it again you find bits that you didn't notice first time round. I've watched it twice now and would happily watch it again and again. Probably also more suited to the 40 plus age group who can emphathise a bit more with Boris' points of view.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Woody Allen is certainly an acquired taste - as a younger man I loathed and detested his pathetic out-pourings and just wanted to yell at him to get a life!

Now, of course, and maybe because I - and us all - have notched up quite a few of my own little nuances to moan about, it's nothing much short of genius. Manhattan seemed to the last of these semi-biopic, witty out-takes on life, set in his homeland, New York City.

I thought we'd lost Woody, as he - unsurprisingly - took to a European Tour; in his workaholic way, he couldn't just go on holiday - he still had to make films, almost to justify his mere existence. These were often entertaining diversions, with attractive people, but somehow, not Mr Allen.

Here, now, In 2009's Whatever Works, Larry King IS Woody Allen - you can just picture/hear him as the rants pile up and the miseries escalate. It's a brilliant casting - David's Curb Your Enthusiasm extended far and beyond what he was ever able to do with just one episode.

Yes, the Allen cliches are all there - Jewishness, Genius marrying a young simpleton to save her, third parties getting involved and their strands running at tangents - and David talking to himself/the camera - just as Woody used to do.

Yes, it's funny, often bitingly sharp and not too long. Updated, yet not too hip and still with some jazz soundtrack to give it an authentic Allen fizz. I've yet to see his latest Midnight In Paris - and am really looking forward to that - but in the meantime, Whatever Works is a pleasure - and one that you could readily watch again in a few months time. Welcome back, Woody!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Once again Woody Allen pulls off a superbly entertaining caper, even though it starts out less promisingly than some. The visual aspect of the film is perhaps a bit lacking, as the look of the main character's flat is decidedly down-at-heel and furthermore a bit stagey. Larry David gets the right mixture of abrasiveness and vulnerability in the central role, and Evan Rachel Wood does well in an impossible role, because it beggars belief, really, that these two characters could end up marrying ... However Allen passes fairly quickly over this and things move into a higher gear once her mother appears on the scene. Patricia Clarkson is always fantastic and here she is certainly the funniest character, brilliantly observed before (and after) New York starts to affect her. Boris's caustic temperament is also at its most hilarious in their exchanges. The film also has some laugh-out-loud moments that are verbally as brilliant as anything from his pen, and by the end you feel he has brought it off with his customary flair, if not perhaps the genius of his greatest films.

It's also the first film of his where gay men have featured at all, and is further gay-friendly in the form of the young suitor who makes his play for the young ingenue, who is possibly the sexiest male character to appear in a Woody Allen film to date ... well, there have been Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Xavier Bardem too, and then Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell, all since 2005 ... but no hint of male gayness in the films to play off against them as here (there is a lesbian theme in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but it seems to be more in the male projection mode, really). So, in a sense, you can see Allen still extending his range outwards, but remaining within the terrain that is recognisably his - which is admirable - after all, a chameleon can change colour within reason but isn't suddenly going to appear with polka dots. I always wish that Eric Rohmer had made a nod in a gay direction, even if only once in his many films - and the young man's appearance in this film is perhaps the most Rohmer-like moment in a Woody Allen film so far, recalling the attempted pick-up in a market that was so memorable in Les rendez-vous de Paris.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2011
This is a real return to form by Woody Allen - his funniest film in some time. The development of the situation is slightly strained at times but Woody Allen exploits it all with a very amusing script. Excellently acted by the two principals, I would recommend this to any film fan regardless of whether you are an admirer of Woody Allen or not.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 17 December 2010
Quite simply amazing. A little gem of a film, the performance from David is perfect and the dry wit is irresistible.
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