7.2/10
64,674
176 user 191 critic

Whatever Works (2009)

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

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

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

Director:

Writer:

2 wins. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Sally's parents' marriage breaks up when her father undergoes a mid-life crisis and impulsively weds a prostitute. Meanwhile, Sally's own marriage also begins to disintegrate.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin
Scoop (2006)
Comedy | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An American journalism student in London scoops a big story, and begins an affair with an aristocrat as the incident unfurls.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Jim Dunk
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The lives of some visitors and residents of Rome and the romances, adventures and predicaments they get into.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The tale of two brothers with serious financial woes. When a third party proposes they turn to crime, things go badly and the two become enemies.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A director is forced to work with his ex-wife, who left him for the boss of the studio bankrolling his new film. But the night before the first day of shooting, he develops a case of psychosomatic blindness.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Téa Leoni, Bob Dorian
Match Point (2005)
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

At a turning point in his life, a former tennis pro falls for an actress who happens to be dating his friend and soon-to-be brother-in-law.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Emily Mortimer
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle. Personal and professional complications ensue.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Two alternating stories, one comedy and the other tragedy, about Melinda's attempts to straighten out her life.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Will Ferrell, Vinessa Shaw, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Anything Else (2003)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Jerry Falk learns a lesson the hard way when he falls head over heels in love with a beautiful but flighty girl, Amanda.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Jason Biggs, Christina Ricci
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem
Comedy | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An insurance investigator and an efficency expert who hate each other are both hypnotized by a crooked hypnotist with a jade scorpion into stealing jewels.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Greg Stebner, Woody Allen, John Tormey
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Suffering from writer's block and eagerly awaiting his writing award, Harry Block remembers events from his past and scenes from his best-selling books as characters, real and fictional, come back to haunt him.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Judy Davis, Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Edit

Cast

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

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:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

3 July 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Woody Allen Project  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$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

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

First of two Woody Allen films to feature a two word alliterated title. Moreover, both films actually featuring the same first letter in each title word, that being "W". The two films are "Whatever Works" (2009) and "Wonder Wheel" (2017), both made and first released about eight years apart. See more »

Goofs

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 »

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 »


Soundtracks

Desafinado
Written by Antonio Carlos Jobim & Newton Mendonca
Performed by Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd
Courtesy of The Verve Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Refreshingly original
4 July 2009 | by See all my reviews

If ever a movie could be described as an allegorical rendition of a director's life, Whatever Works just might top the list.

Marking Woody Allen's return to his native New York City after a four picture hiatus in Europe, the movie tells the story of Boris Yellnikoff, played by Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), the only actor working in Hollywood today who most closely approximates Allen himself in look, mannerisms, and philosophical outlook. Afflicted by numerous neuroses, Boris has become the ultimate pessimist, seeing life as one long water slide ride into an eventual cesspool. So bleak is his outlook that he becomes convinced that suicide is the only option, but even that cheap out fails him.

Fed up with the world, Boris turns his back on much that society has to offer, instead spending his days teaching chess to kids while publicly humiliating them at every opportunity. Yes, Boris isn't a happy camper, and takes pride in it. The fact that he's managed to maintain a core of four friends is a miracle in and of itself.

Then one day fate causes him to cross paths with Melodie St. Ann Celestine (played by the delightful Evan Rachel Wood), a country bumpkin runaway from the backwoods of Louisiana. She is Jethro Bodine to Yellnikoff's Einstein. A complete intellectual and generational opposite. Love at first sight it isn't, but given the axiom that opposites attract, Boris soon finds himself falling for the much younger siren (cue the Allen parallels).

While some critics have complained that much of the dialog comes across as stilted and unnatural (which it does), Whatever Works unravels more like a stage play than real life, which, I think, is how Allen meant it. As writer and director, he has lots to say here and refuses to allow such trivialities as natural delivery stand in the way. This isn't to say that the performances are wooden, but rather that nobody talks like Yelnikoff in real life, and I'm good with that. What's important here are the ideas, constructs and situations that Allen infuses in his characters.

Interestingly, while much of the movie's theme focuses on the serendipity of life, and thumbs its nose at the divine, the film can easily be viewed from both the atheistic and spiritual viewpoint, particularly given how events unfold in a seemingly manipulated manner.

While not Allen's finest work, Whatever Works will appeal to those who enjoy a light romantic comedy, particularly one that provokes a few sparks from our grey matter, while delivering its laughs.


77 of 109 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 176 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial