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Whatever Works (2009)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 47,484 users   Metascore: 45/100
Reviews: 150 user | 216 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

A middle-aged, misanthropic divorce surprisingly enters into a fulfilling Pygmalion type relationship with a much younger, unsophisticated Southern girl.

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Title: Whatever Works (2009)

Whatever Works (2009) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast

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

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

Genres:

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:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

1 July 2009 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Woody Allen Project  »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£72,678 (UK) (25 June 2010)

Gross:

£203,555 (UK) (2 July 2010)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Mono)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The role of Boris Yellnikoff was original written for Zero Mostel. After Mostel's death in 1977, Woody Allen set the screenplay aside. However, with a potential actor's strike during 2008-9, Allen chose this old screenplay to be his next film. Furthermore Zero Mostel and Larry David both played the role of Max Bialistock. Mostel in the original Producers and David in the play within a show representing the main story arc from season 4 of Curb your Enthusiasm. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References It's a Wonderful Life (1946) See more »

Soundtracks

Menina Flor
Written by Luiz Bonfá (as Luiz Floriano Bonfá), Maria Helena Toledo (as Maria Helena De Toledo) & Giorgio Calabrese
Performed by Charlie Byrd
Courtesy of Concord Music Group, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Whatever Works Movie Review from The Massie Twins
1 July 2009 | by (www.GoneWithTheTwins.com) – See all my reviews

A perfect blend of Woody Allen's views on love and relationships and Larry David's pessimism of life and the imbecilic, Whatever Works won't appeal to those who can't find humor in the morbid recesses and sarcastic ranting of these two comedians' minds, but everyone else will revel in the darkly misanthropic philosophies. Though this perverse fable may wrap up a little too neatly for those less inclined to believe in optimism for such an ensemble of decadent misfits, viewers with the right amount of indifference towards decency won't object, as long as they aren't one of the mindless zombie masses so scathingly scolded in the cynical social commentary.

Attempting to impress his ideologies on religion, relationships, and the randomness (and worthlessness) of existence, lifelong New York resident Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) rants to anyone who will listen, including the audience. But when he begrudgingly allows naive Mississippi runaway Melodie St. Ann Celestine (Evan Rachel Wood) 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.

It may be written by Woody Allen, but it certainly feels like Larry David's material. Regardless of who's channeling who, the biting humor in the film is simply hilarious; it's surprising how much fun can be had from watching a character who positively abhors life, people and interaction. Boris may not be relatable, but he's wickedly sarcastic and intelligently despicable. The conclusion may be a bit too tidy to be interpreted as much more than a cynical comedy, but the supporting actors and clever dialogue creates a set of disillusioned protagonists that are easy to watch.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is the odd-couple pairing of elderly Yellnikoff and the hopelessly naïve twenty-something Melodie. Extreme differences in age and social standings have been explored in Allen's previous films, but both characters are so delightfully polar opposites that seeing them together is refreshing. They're two runaways on a mission to fulfill the illusion of meaning, one a self-proclaimed genius, the other a foolish, feeble-minded cretin with a heart of gold. Add to that the nonstop sophomoric tirades on religion, sexuality, mortality, marriage, the presidency, racism, human existence, and chess, and you've got an overload of pessimistic insights posing as genius. It may not be a feel good movie, but it's convincingly ridiculous and it absolutely works.

  • The Massie Twins



32 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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