2009-07-31 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

Whatever Works' - Woody Does
By Robert Snyder

Woody Allen is a man who must make movies.

Though the script for "Whatever Works" was written decades ago as vehicle for the late Zero Mostel, the resulting recent film is overflowing with uproarious Allenisms. Using TV's "Curb Your Enthusiasm's" Larry David as his surrogate voice-piece, Allen is a volcano erupting with witty perceptions. If he didn't have a movie in which to vent them, he might very well go mad…or madder than he already is.

In fact, the monologue assaults are so relentless that often the narrative structure stops. Speaking for Allen as curmudgeon Boris Yelnikoff, David simply looks into the camera and addresses the audience directly. He even seems to see us, remarking on popcorn munchers, dozers and uninterested patrons exiting the theater.

It's funny, but not new. Allen himself as comic Alvie Singer "breaks the fourth wall" in 1977's "Annie Hall." Still, gimmick works, along with the rest of the movie, which shows the great film maker/comedian returning at the top of his game to his Manhattan home after years in Europe ("Match Point," "Cassandra's Dream," "Vicky Cristina Barcelona").

Oh yeah, the story. It's standard Allen fare, with a pretty young runaway, Melody (Evan Rachel Wood), moving in with the old geezer and (only in Woody's world) falling in love and marrying him. Melody is a dim-wit from the deep South, who is soon joined by her Blanche DuBois mother, Marietta (Patricia Clarkson), and her father, John (Ed Begley, Jr.). The libertine influence of New York City soon transforms the religious conservative parents into flaming liberals, which is again funny, but nothing new in Allenland. Those wanting to hear more wonderful Woody witticisms, don't wait.

Go see "Whatever Works." It does.

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