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Whatever Works (2009)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Romance | 3 July 2009 (USA)
2:17 | Trailer

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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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Cast overview, first billed only:
Clifford Lee Dickson ...
Chess Mother
Chess Girl (as Willa Cuthrell Tuttleman)


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 USA:

$266,162, 21 June 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$5,306,447, 30 October 2009

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$35,097,815, 12 August 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film takes place from 2009 to 2011. See more »


In the scene where Randy bumps into Melodie at the clothing store, she has pink nail polish. In the next scene at the boat, she does not. 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 ...
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References The Abyss (1989) See more »


Salty Bubble
Written by Ray Ronnei
Performed by Tom Sharpsteen and His Orlandos
Courtesy of the Family of Luther T. Sharpsteen
See more »

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User Reviews

Totally agree... vintage Woody Allen
24 October 2009 | by See all my reviews

First, just so you know, I'm writing this review from France... but I'm from the U.S. That, so you don't disregard this as yet another Franco-Allen fan (they've exchanged their Jerry Lewis passion for Woody over here, and sanction everything he does).

Also, disclaimer: I really like and respect Woody Allen's work and I'm also an ex New Yorker. With a Jewish wife, no less. So no, okay, I'm not unbiased.

All that said... I fully agree with "boyden" in that this movie is far better than the reviews it gets from critics. On rottentomatoes.com, for instance, this garnered a 45% rating. That's on par with non-hits like "Gigli" etc.

Yet, the dialogue was great... Larry David was as close to a Woody Allen substitute as anyone has come in a long time (Allen always casts people he can direct to sound like him, it seems)... and it made me crave that old New York, before the money of the recent pre-bust boom turned it into a homogenized has-been of a city.

Evan Rachel Wood, by the way, was overwhelmingly charming. And I thought all the other acting was excellent too, in the way people act in Woody Allen movies... which is ALWAYS different from what it is in other films (you occasionally get those moments where the lines are crafted or improvised rather than somewhere in the middle).

At any rate, it's amazing the size of the disconnect between fan response and the response of the critics... who, in my opinion, should go watch Annie Hall and Sleeper and the like so they can remember again.

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