For many years Woody Allen has been something of an unknown to me. To a large extent he continues to be an enigma. My experience with his movies has been limited, to say the least, more or less limited to those films over the past decade, and looking over Woody's filmography, there are some great movies I still need to see. Anyway, off I went to see Whatever Works on the heels of such recent Allen ventures as Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Cassandra's Dream, and Match Point. This proved to be a decidedly different experience, but one that proved to be infinitely more rewarding than the past couple I have been subjected to.
Whatever Works turns out to be one of the funniest Allen films I have seen in recent years. How could it not be? It the first straight up comedy he has made since 2003's Anything Else. Most of his films since then have played more towards the dramatic or thriller side of the coin, with most coinciding with his departure from New York City for more European locales. Even with my limited Allen experience, it is nice to see him return stateside and turn out a zippy, banter-driven comedy.
It came as no surprise to learn that this screenplay was originally written in the 1970s and was being tailored to star Zero Mostel, but his death caused Allen to shelve the script. I am glad to see he was able to dust it off and put it to good use. Not only that, but Larry David seems to be the perfect fit for the role, which feels like the classic Woody-type role that he would have played 10 or 15 years ago.
The movie opens with Groucho Marx singing "Hello, I Must be Going" from Animal Crackers, which serves as the film's theme song and sums up much of what Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) is about. We move from there to watching the activity that likely takes up the majority of Boris' time. What could that be? Why, holding conversations/lectures with his friends on the finer points of the life around them and how he pretty much hates all of it.