Time to review another recent Woody Allen film. It’s the story of a New York City physicist with a 200 IQ (played by Larry David) who marries a stereotypical beautiful dumb blonde from Mississippi (played by Evan Rachel Wood). Realism is not part of what Whatever Works is going for.
For me, the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes are worth the price of admission and guarantee a *** rating. Between the beginning and end there are only occasional moments of brilliance and Whatever Works drifts way off course about halfway through. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Woody Allen at his worst is still superior to what normally passes for comedy drama today.
Boris, the physicist, tells us that people are basically rotten, that life is meaningless and that the universe is black, violent and indifferent. He has tried to kill himself but failed. Melody, the dumb blonde, tries to learn the bleak wisdom of Boris but in the end it is she who teaches Boris that life can be meaningful if you are able to give and receive love. At the end, Boris even talks favourably about something he calls luck, which one could equate with that cold dark universe of his. Critics like to write about how Allen uses his films to convey his view that the universe is cold and indifferent. If that is true, why do I always get the sense that he is trying to talk himself out of such a view.
The writing and acting in Whatever Works are certainly not as strong as they could be, but it has some very funny moments and, as usual with an Allen film, I enjoyed it. *** My mug is up even if whatever’s inside doesn’t work that well.