Whatever Works, Doesn’t

On the surface, it really should work.  A pairing of Woody Allen and Larry David had great potential.  Unfortunately, the reviews are in and “Whatever Works”, opening in theatres today, falls flat.

Larry David, as Boris Yelnikoff in "Whatever Works"

Larry David, as Boris Yelnikoff in "Whatever Works"

As a Larry David fan, it pains me to pass on the bad news, but take your pick of the reviews here by: A.O. Scott of the New York Times, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, or Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly.  The consensus is that Woody Allen has lost the touch.

The good news for Larry David is that he can shake this off a little easier than Woody Allen might.  After all, it won’t be long before the next (final?) season of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.

And, with the press junket for this new movie in high gear, the always reluctant David actually sat for a few interviews.  He doesn’t give up much, but I found a couple of these well worth the read –

“How is Larry David doing?” – Los Angeles Times (great story about his mother here)

“A Terse Interview With Larry David” – IFC.com (only Larry David could find Larry David “happy” on the surface)

With the paucity of movie choices this summer, it still might be worth spending the money for some “only sporadically amusing” moments in “Whatever Works.”  But consider yourself warned. 

And look forward to a much better experience once the new episodes of the excellent Enthusiasm begin their run.

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~ by acm213 on June 19, 2009.

2 Responses to “Whatever Works, Doesn’t”

  1. Ummm…you’re probably not aware of this, but Woody Allen is somewhat higher up the artistic ladder than Larry David will ever be. He couldn’t care less about good or bad reviews. In fact, he’s about to jet off to London to start work on the first of a 3 film deal financed by the backers of Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

  2. I actually thought WHATEVER WORKS would have been quite a fun film if not for Larry David. Don’t get me wrong, I like David in CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM. But he’s not an actor. And the reason WHATEVER fails is due to David’s uncomfortable, wooden performance, not Mr. Allen’s script. But it still falls on Allen to have cast and gotten a performance out of David. And he didn’t. That happens sometimes. And when it does, you work with what you have and make it the best it can be. I don’t know if Mr. Allen worked to get a better perf from Mr. David or not. What is clear is that the performance that was needed to make the entire film work is not there. However, thanks to the talents of the rest of the cast and a fun, smart script, the film is still worth the price of admission and still smarter than most of what Hollywood has to offer. But David’s performance (or lack of one) does weigh the film down. From my understanding, David was reluctant to take this role. It might have been best for all involved if he had trusted his initial instincts. Again, I’m not criticizing David for trying, I’m just saying that in the end, he is the rock around the neck of this film. Who put that rock there was probably a group effort. But to say Mr. Allen has “lost it” is to dismiss so many of the films he has given us in the last few years alone. MATCH POINT, SCOOP, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA… I even thought CASSANDRA’S DREAM was terrific, both unusual and unique for Allen. It also contained some extraordinary performances. With a filmmaker this prolific and with so many masterful films under his belt, to dismiss him as having lost his talent is a dangerous and misleading game to play. It’s the kind of thinking that kept filmmakers like David Lean from making even more films than they did. Personally, I will continue to celebrate Mr. Allen’s non-stop flow of creativity and his ability to continue making film after film, more for himself than for any particular audience. An audience known for being fickle. Lest we forget the negative criticisms of films like BROADWAY DANNY ROSE and STARDUST MEMORIES. Films now rediscovered and considered Allen favorites by many. Yes, critics claimed he’d lost it back then, too. But he still continued. And the world of film is a richer place for it.

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