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Whatever Works (2009)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  3 July 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 55,777 users   Metascore: 45/100
Reviews: 163 user | 217 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

A middle-aged, misanthropic divorcée from New York City surprisingly enters a fulfilling, Pygmalion-type relationship with a much younger, unsophisticated Southern girl.



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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Boris' Friend
Boris' Friend
Boris' Friend
Clifford Lee Dickson ...
Boy on Street
Boy's Mother
Chess Mother
Lady at Chinese Restaurant
Chess Girl (as Willa Cuthrell Tuttleman)
Perry's Friend


Attempting to impress his ideologies on religion, relationships, and the randomness (and worthlessness) of existence, lifelong New York resident Boris Yellnikoff rants to anyone who will listen, including the audience. But when he begrudgingly allows naive Mississippi runaway Melodie St. Ann Celestine to live in his apartment, his reclusive rages give way to an unlikely friendship and Boris begins to mold the impressionable young girl's worldly views to match his own. When it comes to love, "whatever works" is his motto, but his already perplexed life complicates itself further when Melodie's parents eventually track her down. Written by The Massie Twins

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual situations including dialogue, brief nude images and thematic material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

3 July 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Woody Allen Project  »

Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$266,162 (USA) (19 June 2009)


£203,555 (UK) (2 July 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The house where Boris lives with his first wife is the same one in "Match point", Jonathan Ryes Mayers and Emily Mortimer live when they get married. See more »


Near the beginning of the film, when Boris is talking with his wife Jessica, the position of Jessica's arms keeps changing from shot to shot. See more »


[first lines]
Boris Yellnikoff: That's not what I'm saying, imbecile. You guys completely misrepresent my ideas, why would I even want to talk with those idiots.
Boris' Friend: Just calm down.
Boris' Friend: That's not true, Boris.
Boris Yellnikoff: No, don't tell me to calm down, I am calm. Just stop.
Boris' Friend: Don't jump on us just because we don't understand what you're saying.
Boris Yellnikoff: I didn't jump on you. It's not the idea behind Christianity I'm faulting, or Judaism, or any religion. It's the professionals who've made it into corporate business. There's big money in the ...
See more »


Auld Lang Syne
(from the motion picture Radio Days (1987))
Arranged by Dick Hyman
Performed by Dick Hyman & His Orchestra
Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Music Inc.
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User Reviews

Woody has done it again
5 July 2009 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

The critics have missed on this one. Don't believe the negative reviews. It's the funniest one from Woody since maybe Deconstructing Harry. Everything works. From the very original script, combining Allen's bleak view of life with effervescent farcical plot line, to uniformly fine performances from Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, and the rest of the cast. Comedic sparks fly non-stop. Not just light chuckles here and there at Woody's witticisms, but loud all-out laughter. The scenes with Ed Begley's and Patricia Clarkson's transformations of 'classic text-book right-wing material' are especially hilarious. And in the end I came out from the theater, thinking that in a paradoxical way it was one of the most life-affirming pictures from the master.

104 of 144 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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