Tagline: A new comedy
Synopsis: Whatever Works explores the relationship between a crotchety misanthrope, Boris and a naïve, impressionable young runaway from the south, Melody. When Melody's uptight parents arrive in New York to rescue her, they are quickly drawn into wildly unexpected romantic entanglements. Everyone discovers that finding love is just a combination of lucky chance and appreciating the value of "whatever works."
Round-up: "Marked by interchangeably trite and witty dialogue, 'Whatever Works' is the definition of a minor Woody Allen movie," writes Eric Kohn in his review for indieWIRE. The director’s triumpha... nt return to New York City after several years of European excursions finds him in familiar, if not exemplary, form. Most people on the Allen bandwagon will likely view this outing as a charming mediocrity." The New York Times' A.O. Scott is similarly underwhelmed by Allen's latest offering. "Mr. Allen’s imagination has returned to Manhattan after that invigorating European sojourn afflicted by an extreme case of jet lag," he writes. "In spite of a few up-to-date references — to Barack Obama, red states and gay people, for instance — Mr. Allen seems to have touched down in New York at some hazy time when Zero Mostel, for whom 'Whatever Works' was originally written, still ruled Broadway. Those kids, with their crazy rock ’n’ roll! Those artists, with their wacky ideas!" The sense that "Whatever Works" will feel out of touch with today's audiences is echoed by several reviews. "The fact that Allen wrote the script in the '70s explains something about why his newest movie feels so old," observes Lisa Schwarzbaum for Entertainment Weekly. "But still, the guy couldn't maybe come up with some new spritz of nu? Once again, the main character/Woody stand-in complains directly to the movie audience. Once again, a pretty young woman gives it up to a saggy homunculus. Once again, Allen occupies a hermetic notion of New York City rather than a reality." Concludes the Village Voice's J. Hoberman: "To suggest, as Mark Harris did in a recent New York cover story, that 'Whatever Works' marks the end of Jewish humor as we know it is to give this blown opportunity more significance than it warrants. Allen did invent and inhabit the persona of an anxious misfit, but, as ambitious as he is, he never came close to producing a truly corrosive, antisocial comic work—an equivalent to Portnoy's Complaint, the original version of The Producers, Borat, or any number of Lenny Bruce monologues. His problem, as Boris would surely have deduced, is a pathetic desire to be loved. He wants to make nice—it's just his nature."