Parents' Guide to

Whatever Works

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Tepid adult comedy is no Allen masterpiece.

Movie PG-13 2009 92 minutes
Whatever Works Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 18+

Woody's Alter-ego is a Blast

Don't accept any negative reviews for this great Woody Allen film. Larry David is the essence of the real Woody, a neurotic, faith doubting Jew, who falls for a Southern Belle played by Evan Rachelle Woods. This is not to be missed by any Allen fans. Woody has an incredible catalog of work and he continues to create some of the most thoughtful and romantic films ever made by a director. Go get a copy of "Whatever Works" and have a good laugh.
age 13+

Woody has done it again

The critics have missed on this one. Don't believe the negative reviews. It's the funniest one from Woody since maybe Deconstructing Harry. Everything works. From the very original script, combining Allen's bleak view of life with effervescent farcical plot line, to uniformly fine performances from Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, and the rest of the cast. Comedic sparks fly non-stop. Not just light chuckles here and there at Woody's witticisms, but loud all-out laughter. The scenes with Ed Begley's and Patricia Clarkson's transformations of 'classic text-book right-wing material' are especially hilarious. And in the end I came out from the theater, thinking that in a paradoxical way it was one of the most life-affirming pictures from the master.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Sadly, WHATEVER WORKS doesn't work. Though Allen's exquisite turns of phrase still amuse, the film feels dated, of a time when threesomes and May-December affairs still shocked (not surprisingly, the script is one that was initially written decades ago). David, supremely entertaining in Curb Your Enthusiasm, is wrong here, even if he is funny. Allen's lost and brittle male protagonists need vulnerability for the story to work -- think Alvy in Annie Hall -- and vulnerable David most certainly isn't. Plus, there's little to no chemistry between him and Wood (they barely hug).

But here's the biggest rub: Allen's movies are always of their place -- New York in the lion's share of his canon and, more recently, London and Barcelona. But the New York we see here seems robbed of energy and inspiration ... kind of like the movie itself.

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