Whatever Works

Rated PG-13 92 minutes 2009

Woody Allen is back in Manhattan after a European jaunt that included 2005’s Match Point and last year’s Oscar-winning Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but nothing much has changed. Nothing ever really changes in Allen’s world, a time capsule of ’70s brainy bohemia where lovely younger women launch themselves at cranky older pessimists. At least the faces are different: Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David stars as a quasi-suicidal chess tutor who gets entangled with a sweet Southern naïf (The Wrestler’s Evan Rachel Wood) and her unhinged family (including Patricia Clarkson, who is always stealing scenes). Yet Allen’s stagey timing feels increasingly stale, and his persistent inability to write a realistic part for a woman makes you wonder whether he’s actually met one. Of course, there’s the occasional choice one-liner, but Allen’s comedies are like an old pair of slippers: familiar, comfortable and certainly not what they once were.

Film Credits

Official Site: www.sonyclassics.com/whateverworks

Director: Woody Allen

Producer: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Vincent Maraval and Brahim Chioua

Cast: Larry David, Evan Wood, Patricia Clarkson, Ed Begley Jr., Michael McKean, Henry Cavill, John Gallagher Jr., Jessica Hecht, Carolyn McCormick and Christopher Evan Welch

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