Whatever (doesn’t?) Work

After much anticipation I checked out the new Woody Allen / Larry David film Whatever Works. Summary: moderately entertaining, but ultimately disappointing. David and Allen are two of my favorite comedians, so perhaps my expectations were unrealistically high, but this movie still fails on several levels. Not only was the film was a re-hash of older Woody Allen clichés, but most of the humor seemed forced. This must have taken real effort considering it starred Larry David.

Let’s make a list of Woody Allen movie clichés:
– Completely filmed in Manhattan
– Laughably implausible older man / younger woman love affair
– Lots of artists and intellectuals who are invariably English/Philosophy professors at NYU or Columbia
– A surprising lack of people who might actually be able to afford to live in Manhattan (lawyers, investment bankers)
– Neurotic Jews
– Obsession with death
– Lack of any music that is not a.) Jazz and b.) Produced after 1940
– Regarding any non-liberal Manhattanite as an otherworldy, half man-creature

Each of these themes also features prominently in Whatever Works. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it’s a formula that has worked well in the past. The setup fails here, however, because nothing seems genuine or particularly unique, and Larry David isn’t enough to help it along. It really feels more like someone decided to create a parody of a Woody Allen movie—maybe this is Woody’s idea of some sort of meta joke? I don’t know. To make matters worse, it really drags in places, which is bad for any film and inexcusable in one that’s only 90 minutes long.

So, why is Larry David not funny? Probably because none of this movie was ad-libbed. He had a few nice one-liners, but 20 minutes into the movie you realize that he’s making literally the same joke over and over again.

Despite all my criticisms, this was still somewhat entertaining. And if you’re a big fan of Woody Allen or Larry David, you’ll probably see it anyway. This would make a decent date movie, just—keep your expectations low.

Larry David, in funnier times:


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