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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.



3,663 ( 396)
2 wins. 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)


$5,306,447 (USA) (30 October 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Like Allen's later film "Blue Jasmine," this film takes several cues from Tennessee Williams's Streetcar Named Desire. Marietta, a Southern woman visiting the big city, echoes Blanche DuBois in several ways, including being horrified at the apartment Melodie lives in and being coy about her drinking. At least one of her lines ("You are not the gentleman I was expecting") is a direct homage to "Streetcar." See more »


When Boris and Melody discuss the female leads in Gone With The Wind, Boris says that Scarlett has green eyes. If you watch Gone With The Wind, you will see that Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) has blue eyes. 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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Featured in 71st Golden Globe Awards (2014) See more »


Menina Flor
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Performed by Charlie Byrd
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User Reviews

Totally agree... vintage Woody Allen
24 October 2009 | by (France) – 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.

28 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Creepy male fantasy ruens-2
Glaring grammatical error aalbert
What IS the worst Woody Allen movie (asks a fan) kipconlon-1
Was this the worst WOody Allen movie, or what?? ogg77
This movie is A LOT BETTER than 'Midnight in Paris' lateacher
they simply do not make movies like this anymore hunterk221
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