Whatever Works, written and directed by Woody Allen, is one of those comedies people tend to miss whether because there is no theater playing the movie, or they’re just not interested. If you did though, you’d be missing one of the best and most enjoyable films to come out this summer. Whatever Works delivers a delightful and entertaining look at relationships and their ridiculous nature. From the characters to the story itself, everything is over the top yet at the same time being slightly believable. It is set in New York City, so anything is bound to happen.
The story follows Boris Yellinkoff (Larry David), a theoretical physicist with vast intelligence and a cynical view on life. After a suicide attempt and a divorce from his wife, he finds himself living alone with a mere smidgen of his former glory. While coming home one night, he encounters a vagabond living under his apartment stairs by the name of Melodie St. Anne (Evan Rachel Wood), a southern belle who ran away from her home in Louisiana due to her parents’ infidelity. With much reluctance, David decides to take Wood into his care. Their polar opposite attitudes and age create an interesting dynamic that eventually leads to a surprising love and marriage.
However, the movie does not end there. The marriage begins to unravel as Wood’s mother (Patricia Clarkson) comes to reclaim her daughter. The story soon takes twists and turns as it attempts to show the viewer the strange and bizarre ways people can be in love. The plot is satisfying and doesn’t fall short of expectations. It’s cute, funny and has an ending that couldn’t disappoint anyone.
Fitting within the theme of Allen’s last couple movies, each shot is a blast of color and warm tones. It screams of sunshine and happiness, which fits nicely into the comedy genre and leaves the viewer feeling just as good. The characters and acting is nothing but top notch. Out of all the performances in the film, David simply steals the show. His dry witticisms and comical cynicism couldn’t have been uttered better by any other actor. His blatant cruelty and atypical take on the crotchety old man will leave the audience laughing throughout. The jokes are well written and are very tongue and cheek. The viewer is practically assaulted by the usual style of Allen humor, which includes but is not limited to, obscure intellectual references, social commentary and the unexpected piece of slapstick. Pay attention or you just might miss something.
The music consists mainly of classical pieces (a part of David’s attempt to culture the young Wood) and ragtime tunes that often make appearances in Allen’s films. The presence is subtle, but it adds an identifiable trademark and doesn’t hurt the uplifting feeling of the movie.
If you have a chance this week, go see this movie, plain and simple. It’s a quality film with an adorable story, excellent cinematography and doesn’t rely on vulgarity in order to be sidesplitting. Substance is often lacking in recent comedies and Whatever Works is a nice little change-up for those looking to laugh for a few hours. A word to the wise though: if you’re not the biggest Woody Allen fan, you probably will not enjoy the jokes or the story. However, for anyone else looking for something different or is willing to try something different, this is the movie for you.
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