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Whatever Works (2009)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  3 July 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 55,797 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?


Evan Rachel Wood mentions Plaquemine County to Larry David. Not only is there no Plaquemine County in Louisiana, but it is also the only state to not have any counties, only parishes.(Melodie mentions PC in relation to losing her virginity, growing up in Mississippi, not Louisiana.) See more »


Henry Cavill plays the character Randy, a British actor. No Brit would ever be called Randy because in the UK the word randy is the equivalent of horny in US English. 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 »


References A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) See more »


If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)
Written by Henry Creamer & James P. Johnson
Performed by Jackie Gleason
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Real Men of Genius
28 June 2009 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. Such an odd experience ... watching an old Woody Allen for the first time. Well that's the best way I can describe this. The script was from the 70's and certainly, Mr. Allen made a few changes to make it fit the 21st century, but still we can't help but think it's 1977 all over again ... especially since Woody has been away from NYC for awhile.

Larry David is cast in the "Woody Allen" role and does his best to bring his Curb Your Enthusiasm delivery. The only problem, his character here, Boris Yellnikoff, is just a very bitter, abusive, negative force ... so even some of the best comedic moments are a bit tainted by the mean spiritedness.

Evan Rachel Wood has been a star in the making since "Thirteen" and really brings a new dimension not just to her career, but also the film. Her runaway southern belle is a flat out hoot. When her parents (Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley, Jr.) arrive, we gain some insight into Allen's thought process ... he thinks NYC is the be all and end all ... and can even enlighten those southern "crackers".

Mr. Allen has always been obsessed with three topics ... dying, sex and intellect, and all three are on prominent display here. He really has an innate ability to exaggerate life subtleties and slap us upside the head in his films. I believe his message is that the big picture of life is overwhelming and disheartening, but as individuals, we can each find happiness.

47 of 78 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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