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

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

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®

  • Tomatometer®

    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

3 stars

I have to see it again, but I say that for Woody Allen and Larry David, this is B+ because it's solid but exactly what you'd expect, no avant garde surprises. Definitely funny and well worth watching. Imagine Allen directs David in a post post-modern spin of Manhattan. It's 92 minutes well spent.

- Stinger839, Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2 stars

"I don't have anywhere to go. And if you throw me out and I wind up an Asian prostitute, that's gonna be on your conscience." Whatever Works may be a clunker, but it's a charming clunker. I expected a pairing between Woody Allen and Larry David to be an absolute home-run, especially with people like Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, and Ed Begley, Jr. joining in on the fun. It didn't live up to that expectation. What I got instead was a somewhat enjoyable movie where Woody went a little overboard with pushing his typical themes with the bluntness of a brick. The main character Boris is a typical Allen creation, but pushed to the very extreme. He's like Larry David's character from Curb, except stripped of any likable characteristics. His relationship with Melody (Evan Rachel Wood in a great performance) just seems flat-out preposterous because of his personality. Wood, on the other hand, is one of the few likable characters in the movie. Her charming southern belle is a nice counterpoint to the boorishness of Boris, but her off-the-wall accent and exaggerated personality will get quite a few chuckles from anyone who has actually lived in Mississippi. So yeah, I didn't hate this. I just don't know who I would recommend it to. The story never goes much further than Melody showing up and shaking up Boris's life, and then her parents arriving and doing the same for both of them. Whatever Works is an odd movie that tries to portray a message, but muddles and fumbles with it from beginning to end. A good performance from Wood was really the main thing that keeps me from putting this near the bottom of the Woody Allen movies that I've seen.

- lewiskendell, Saturday, August 21, 2010

4 stars

Maybe Larry David is not the perfect choice for the part of Woody Allen's alter-ego, but this film's script, written in the 1970s, is like a refreshing return to the first half of Allen's career and to his New York after movies in London and Spain. Not perfect, but immensely funny and delightful.

- blacksheepboy, Wednesday, June 23, 2010