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Whatever Works (2009)

by on 2010/06/08

I need to say a few words about Whatever Works.  Only a few because I am by no stretch of the imagination a big fan of — or even much familiar with — the works of Woody Allen.  In truth, I am not the one to do this review justice.  There seems to be, however, such a tsunami of ill will about this particular piece that I feel compelled to speak up.

I have seen, as far as I can recall, four of his films.  Five if you count the 1967 version of Casino Royale (and nobody should count it except, perhaps, those responsible for its way-groovy music).

First I saw Broadway Danny Rose in the theatre.  Maybe that doesn’t count, either, since we walked out mercifully early on:  my friend, his father, and I.

Next, stuck in the home of some family friends, I “resorted” to watching Zelig on Betamax.  To my surprise I thought it was awesome.  But ours was more a VHS family, and the affair ended there.

Fast forward two decades.

At the insistence of A Girl, I was subjected to Annie Hall.  “Tested with” may be a more accurate choice of words.  I don’t recall disliking it, exactly.  Certainly nothing compared to the repulsion I’d feel when assaulted with Garden State, but my reaction probably didn’t endear me overwhelmingly either.

Fast forward five more years.

That Girl became importanter and importanter in the intervening time.  Perhaps in part because of her acceptance of me despite my lack of acceptance of Annie Hall.  Or possibly because she passed my own test at the time:  appreciating Donnie Darko.

And so, because she’d become important, when I came upon Annie Hall in a bargain bin, I bought it.  Just, you know, because.

And upon rewatching I realized it too was actually awesome.

So when I came across another Woody Allen video in another bargain bin I thought, “Hey, it’s got Larry David from Curb Your Enthusiasm on the cover!”  And I bought it.

Too many reviews I’ve read describe the plot of this film, point by point, without actually explaining why the reviewer dislikes it.

Other sources describe the interesting history behind Whatever’s production.

But most agree that Woody Allen returns to his classic form with this piece or, at least, attempts to.  A large percentage of observers note that he has not exceeded his own high standards.

To all of which I react thusly…

Let’s say he built a house, and his family loved it.  They called it “home” and moved right in.  And then he built another great house.  Would they criticize the repetition?  Would the new house be any less of a potential home?

In no way a perfect metaphor but neither is this a perfect world.

A cop out?  Perhaps, but I promised only “a few” words about Whatever Works, so here they are:  he made another awesome house, and I totally enjoyed visiting it.

Like Zelig totally.

* * * * *

Rated PG for adult situations, coarse language, and nudity

92 minutes

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