Box art for Whatever Works

Whatever Works

comedy, drama, romance

Whatever Works explores the relationship between a crotchety misanthrope, Boris (Larry David) and a naïve, impressionable young runaway from the south, Melody (Evan Rachel Wood).

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

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common sense

ON for kids age 15
1 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
3 out of 5
1 out of 5

Tepid adult comedy is no Allen masterpiece.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this tepid Woody Allen comedy tackles mature themes like threesomes, homosexual relationships, and infidelity, though there's little actual nudity or explicit sexual content. The main character tries to commit suicide (played lightly) but isn't successful. The language tends toward the insulting at times, but it isn't overly coarse; expect a little bit of drinking and smoking as well. The humor will most likely appeal to grown-ups or precocious older teens -- don't expect this to be on many kids' must-see list.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about what the story says about relationships. Why does Melody seek the company of a much older man -- and vice versa? Is there anything wrong with a younger person taking up with a much older partner? How do movies usually portray that kind of relationship?
  • Fans of Woody Allen can also discuss how this movie compares to his other films. What do his movies tend to have in common?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

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    reviews counted: 1
    see all Whatever Works reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Whatever Works, like its lead character, takes a long while to draw us in, but once it does it is enjoyable, thoughtful and decidedly Woody.

- Giles Hardie, Unknown2, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Mom: Where should I go for fun with my daughter? Boris: Holocaust Museum! I liked it. Mainly because I'm a fan of David's show Curb Your Enthusiasm. Some parts I laughed so hard I was crying. Highly recommended if you are a fan of David or Woody Allen.

- CreedsDelight, Saturday, July 2, 2011

4 stars

Another thoroughly enjoyable film from the great Woody Allen and one which is brilliantly written, witty and incredibly insightful. A film which is back to his usual New York setting and contains a brilliant performance by Evan Rachel Wood. Full credit goes to Allen for casting the truly lovely Henry Cavill...mmmmmmmm. Highly recomended

- SarahG1988, Thursday, December 23, 2010

3 stars

Marietta: How'd he get that limp? Melodie St. Ann Celestine: He jumped out the window and his suicide didn't work. Marietta: You can't win 'em all. Woody Allen returns to New York after a few stints over in Europe. Working from a screenplay he wrote back in the 70s with Zero Mostel in mind for the lead, it has been reworked a bit and now has Larry David in the lead, as the Woody Allen character. I wasn't a fan of the framing device used for the film, with David breaking the fourth wall, but for the most part, the film had a very classic Allen feel to it, good use of character actors, and a number of good zingers. David stars as Boris Yelnikoff, an eccentric, bitter chess teacher from Greenwich Village. A few years ago, he wakes up in the middle of the night with a panic attack and jumps out the window, but lands on a canopy and survives with only a marked limp. He soon divorces his wife and virtually secludes himself from the world, criticizing everyone he meets for not having his level of intellect. One night, he finds a young woman, Melody played by Evan Rachel Wood, from Mississippi lying on his doorstep. He takes her in for the night and eventually marries her, despite their 40 year age difference and their clashing cultural backgrounds. His philosophy on the matter is that life is short so he might as well enjoy himself. Eventually, Boris' happy mold is broken once Melody's parents, played by Patricia Clarkson and Ed Begley Jr., track her down and one by one come to Boris' door, only to discover New York living for themselves. John: as he kneels down to pray] Lord I've sinned, please forgive me! Boris Yellnikoff: Why do all the religious psychotics wind up praying in my doorstep? I think the cast of this movie is very good. David in the Allen role, works for me. I could use less of his direct to camera tirades against everything, but the way the Melody character counter-balances this aspect certainly helps. All the Allen trademarks are here, including the use of jazz and classical music, characters with smart, analytical dialog, despite there personas, as well as using New York culture as a setting and source of character transformation. All this being said, the film does become a bit sitcomy once the parents arrive, especially Begely Jr (as much as I like seeing him in things). Still, the movie is entertaining and humorous, which is what I wanted and what works. Boris Yellnikoff: That's why I can't say enough times, whatever love you can get and give, whatever happiness you can filch or provide, every temporary measure of grace, whatever works.

- DrZeek, Thursday, November 12, 2009