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WHATEVER WORKS (2009) *** ½

Woody Allen’s movies have kinda been in a funk lately.  What’s worse; his past couple of films haven’t really even been comedies either, which is pretty weird if you ask me.  I’m glad to report that Whatever Works is a return to form for the Wood Man.

 

Larry David stars as a genius named Boris who never passes up an opportunity to express his contempt for the human race.  By chance, a runaway teen (Evan Rachel Wood) turns up on his doorstep and Boris, against all better judgment lets her stay at his apartment.  Eventually, his disdain for her blossoms into love and they get married.  Their marital bliss is challenged however when her boozy mother (Patricia Clarkson) and fanatical father (Ed Begley, Jr.) show up looking for her.

 

Boris’ motto in this movie is “Whatever works” and this seems to have been Woody’s approach behind the camera as well.  The film has some passages that contain absolutely no laughs but more often than not, David will let loose a zinger that has you cracking up.  Whatever works, right?

 

While Allen’s writing is sharp, it’s David’s performance that makes the movie.  This is the kind of role that Woody would’ve usually taken for himself but David infuses the character with a lot of his trademark piss and vinegar that makes his rantings and ravings hysterical.  Naturally, he gets the best line of the film when he says, “I get night sweats… I used to think it was AIDS!”

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