Feature

Whatever Works

In Woody Allen's new film, Larry David plays an aging curmudgeon who somehow charms a young Southern woman into marrying him.

Directed by Woody Allen
(PG-13)

**

A young Southerner falls for a cranky New York Jew.

The title of Woody Allen’s new film, Whatever Works, pretty much sums up his eclectic productions these past few years, said David Germain in the Associated Press. The film marks Allen’s return to New York, but it’s no return to form. Dusting off a script from the 1970s, Allen “falls back” on familiar tropes: a May-December romance, extreme Jewish stereotypes, and the protagonist’s bouts of self-loathing. Larry David plays an aging curmudgeon who somehow charms a young Southern woman, played by a winsome Evan Rachel Wood, into marrying him. It all “feels forced,” said Ronnie Scheib in Variety. Rather than recapture the magic of the Annie Hall era, Allen “loses sight of what works,” letting the film hurtle thumpingly “forward like a stage play.” The film has some “witty one-liners,” but lacks the neurotic, New York charm we’ve come to expect from Allen. Whatever Works falls somewhere between the best and worst of Woody, said Frank Scheck in The Hollywood Reporter. It’s not great, but the are enough “genuine laughs” to keep us fans happy until his next film.

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