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"WHATEVER WORKS"
(2009) (Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Heavy None Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None None Mild
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Minor Moderate Heavy Mild


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: Much to the dismay of her ultra-religious parents, a young woman ends up married to a much older, grouchy and intellectual misanthrope.
PLOT:
Boris Yellnikoff (LARRY DAVID) is a former physicist turned intellectual and grouchy misanthrope who now lives in New York City and has only a handful of friends, such as Joe (MICHAEL McKEAN) and Brockman (CONLETH HILL). His small personal circle is no doubt due to his disdain toward most everything and everyone he comes into contact with, even including the kids who take chess lessons from him.

Accordingly, he doesn't look favorably upon Melody (EVAN RACHEL WOOD), a young woman who's run away from her ultra-religious upbringing in Mississippi and is now outside his building with no place to stay. Although he's obviously reluctant to comply, she convinces him to let her stay with him until she gets a place of her own.

Days turn to weeks and then months, with her adopting his doom and gloom mindset into her otherwise cheery demeanor, and despite yet more reluctance on his part, the two eventually get romantic and then marry. That doesn't sit well with her mom, Marietta (PATRICIA CLARKSON), upon her finally finding Melody, and she quickly sets out to fix her up with aspiring young actor Randy James (HENRY CAVILL).

Likewise, Melody's dad, John (ED BEGLEY JR.), is similarly distressed over the unexpected development, although he, like his estranged wife, ultimately follows Boris' mantra of doing whatever works to make oneself happy, a life philosophy that results in some unlikely personal choices.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or films by Woody Allen, it doesn't seem likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For sexual situations including dialogue, brief nude images and thematic material.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • LARRY DAVID plays a former physicist turned verbose and grouchy misanthrope who doesn't hesitate to point out what's wrong with people when he's not acting in a belittling or demeaning way toward them. He thinks of himself as a genius, uses profanity, suffers from panic attacks, drinks, and ends up married to Melody who's many decades younger than him.
  • EVAN RACHEL WOOD plays a young woman who's run away from her ultra-religious parents and upbringing in Mississippi and has now arrived in New York City with no place to stay. Despite the way Boris treats her, she gets him to agree to let her stay at his place, adopts part of his doom and gloom mindset, and eventually marries him despite their significant age difference. She drinks and ends up intoxicated in one scene.
  • PATRICIA CLARKSON plays her mom who finally finds her in the big city and is dismayed about her behavior and choices, including marrying Boris. Accordingly, she tries fixing up her daughter with Randy, but has a transformation of her own into something of a hippie, moving in and sleeping with two men and taking nude art photos of others. She also drinks.
  • ED BEGLEY JR. plays Melody's father who likewise isn't happy with her choices, and is trying to get back with Marietta despite previously cheating on her with her best friend. He drinks and eventually comes out of the closet.
  • CONLETH HILL plays Boris' friend and philosophy professor who takes a liking to Marietta and eventually ends up in a 3-way relationship with her and another man. He drinks some.
  • HENRY CAVILL plays an actor who's instantly smitten with Melody and thus doesn't mind her mother always try to fix them up (despite her being married to Boris, of which Randy is aware).
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this comedy that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of a handful of expletives as well as various religious phrases. Sexually related dialogue covering a variety of topics (including homosexuality) is present, including material related to a menage a trois (the three are seen in bed, but no related activity is viewed), off-screen sex occurs, and art gallery photos show male and female full frontal and rear nudity.

    A person tries to commit suicide by throwing himself out a window (played for comedy), bad attitudes are present, and some behavior might prove enticing for some kids to imitate. Drinking occurs in several scenes, including some related intoxication. Tense family material is also present.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Boris has a drink.
  • Boris and his friends have drinks. When Boris returns home, he grabs a bottle, but doesn't have any as Melody returns home from her date, intoxicated.
  • Marietta states she has to have a drink, and tells Melody to bring her whatever she has with the highest volume of alcohol. She then drinks, and faints upon learning Boris is her son-in-law. That prompts Boris to state she's obviously a "booze-hound." Marietta then states she needs more booze.
  • Marietta and Leo have wine.
  • Leo and Marietta have wine and she then has more as she appears intoxicated.
  • Randy gets out drink glasses for him and Melody, but she says no, that she gets silly and touchy when she drinks.
  • About taking a detour from going home, Boris state he needs his drink and shower.
  • John has several shots in a bar and orders more, while a man he meets there also drinks.
  • Various people drink at a New Year's party.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see that the name of a band Melody and her date will be seeing is "Anal Sphincter."
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • All of the following is played for comedy.
  • Boris is a grouchy misanthrope who labels himself a genius and puts down most everything else, especially those he believes are less intelligent than he is, and kids to whom he teaches chess.
  • Some viewers might not like Boris having a dim and/or hostile view of organized religion, including stating that there's big money in "the God market." Then there's the fact that Melody's ultra-religious parents change upon arriving in New York, with her mom entering into a 3-way relationship with two men and taking art gallery photos of nudes, while her dad finally comes out of the closet.
  • Boris states that people are afraid of blacks and their big penises, and Jews with their small ones.
  • A miscellaneous mother is upset with Boris and comments on when her husband returns (what he'll do to him), but Boris sarcastically asks where the man is and then answers that he's probably hanging out with naked coeds.
  • About a female character from "Gone With the Wind," Boris comments about the "bitch that she was."
  • Boris tells Melody that she'll wind up as a prostitute, like Asian girls turning tricks.
  • Boris states people hate foreigners, adding that it's the American way.
  • Boris refers to Melody's father (whom he's never met) as a "cracker" and "bigot moron."
  • About how Melody is dressed for her date with a relative stranger (tight top that shows cleavage, small shorts), Boris sarcastically asks if she's looking to end up in an abortion clinic.
  • Marietta informs Melody that her father left her (Marietta) for her best friend. Boris then butts in and asks how often they (Marietta and John) had intercourse.
  • Marietta (con) and Leo (pro) briefly debate abortion.
  • Despite her daughter being married to Boris, Marietta repeatedly tries to get her to fall for Randy, and arranges "accidental" meetings for them, etc.
  • Randy suddenly kisses Melody on his boat, and we then see them making out. But she tells him to wait as she usually carries Viagra (referring to being married to Boris), but he says it's okay as he eats lots of red meat. While not seen, it's implied that they have sex (and thus she cheats on Boris).
  • John is happy to find his missing daughter, stating he thought she was chloroformed by polygamist Mormons.
  • Some viewers might not like the comment "God is gay."
  • Some viewers might not like a comment equating being in the NRA with having sexual inadequacies.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None are present, but John mentions something about not needing his shotgun to prove his manhood.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "You imbecile," "Idiots," "Moron," "What the hell /does it all mean/are you doing?" what sounded like "You little potzer," "What, are you nuts?" "Sexual nothing," "Bitch that she was," "You're a brainless little twit," "Brainless inchworm," "Simpleton," "Shut up," "Can we get the hell out of here?" "A cracker," "Bigot moron," "She had a high IQ and a low-cut dress," "Mental midgets," "Get the hell out of here," "Obviously a booze-hound," "Gimpy chess bum" and "I see death by culture shock."
  • Some kids might imitate the intellectual misanthropy on display.
  • We hear that Melody has run away from home.
  • Boris throws himself through his window, crashing through the glass. We don't see the impact below, but hear that he landed on a woman passing by down there, and then see her in the hospital with a cast on her leg and arm (played for comedy).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 slang term for sex ("doing it"), 6 hells, 12 uses of "Oh my God," 6 of "G-damn," 5 of "Christ," 3 each of "God" and "Oh Lord," 2 each of "For God's sakes," "Jesus," "My God" and "Oh God" and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "Lord," "Oh Christ" and "Oh For Christ's sakes."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Boris comments on people's predictably unsatisfactory love lives.
  • There's talk of sexually repression.
  • In a flashback, Boris reminds his first wife of her affair, with her saying it was a brief interlude of infidelity. About why he married her, Boris says she loved sex, but the two end up arguing.
  • Boris states that people are afraid of blacks and their big penises, and Jews with their small ones.
  • A miscellaneous mother is upset with Boris and comments on when her husband returns (what he'll do to him), but Boris sarcastically asks where the man is and then answers that he's probably hanging out with naked coeds.
  • Melody shows cleavage.
  • About a female character from "Gone With the Wind," Boris states she was a "sexual nothing."
  • Boris tells Melody that she'll wind up as a prostitute, like Asian girls turning tricks.
  • Melody tells Boris that she's not going to Heaven due to the fact that she "made love" before marriage. She then says that took place behind a tent with a guy, and that her mom said sex was a woman's duty to lie there, that it would hurt the first time, and something about the perversions involved. But Melody then says it felt natural to her and that the little extras were fun. Boris doesn't want to her about this, commenting on "slinking your lust."
  • When Boris cries out from a panic attack at night and runs out in his t-shirt and boxers, Melody comes to his aid in her panties and a camisole (that shows some cleavage and under which we can see the shape of her nipples).
  • About Melody staying with Boris, the latter's friend asks how she is in bed, with Boris saying how would he (Boris) know.
  • Melody shows cleavage.
  • About his former wife and meeting her in the past, Boris says she had a high IQ and a low-cut dress.
  • After Melody lets Boris know she's developed a crush on him, he states that won't work, for a variety of reasons, including that he has no urge to make love.
  • About how Melody is dressed for her date with a relative stranger (tight top that shows cleavage, small shorts), Boris sarcastically asks if she's looking to end up in an abortion clinic. She says that she'll be giving her date a preview of what's to come and that she has a natural talent for fooling around.
  • Showing that Boris has worn off on her, Melody states that her reaction to talk of a guy back home who was caught "doing it" with a sheep was "whatever works."
  • Marietta informs Melody that her father left her (Marietta) for her best friend. Boris then butts in and asks how often they (Marietta and John) had intercourse.
  • Melody shows some cleavage.
  • Leo tells Boris that despite her political leanings, Marietta has beautifully shaped breasts and then comments about women's butts being of different fruit shapes, suggestively adding that he's a big fruit eater. Boris comments on him commenting on bosoms and bottoms, and that Leo could get Marietta in bed. Later, however, Boris sarcastically comments on praying about herpes.
  • Leo suggestively informs Marietta that something else (nonsexual) isn't the only gift the Good Lord gave her (meaning her body).
  • We hear Boris stating that like a genie out of the bottle, everything changed with Marietta once she had sex with Leo. It's mentioned she had sex with him, his friends and so on, and we then see her in bed with Leo and another man, all under the sheets (suggesting 3-way sex).
  • Marietta shows cleavage.
  • About Marietta's photography work, Leo states that she's a student of sexual perversion and erotic imagination.
  • Randy suddenly kisses Melody on his boat, and we then see them making out. But she tells him to wait as she usually carries Viagra (referring to being married to Boris), but he says it's okay as he eats lots of red meat. While not seen, it's implied that they have sex (and thus she cheats on Boris).
  • Melody comments on her mom making love to Leo one way when they're alone, and then another way when they're with the other man in their love triangle.
  • About Boris and Melody, John tells his daughter "this creature took you to bed," but Boris replies, "No, she took me." Melody then says that Boris hated sex at first, with Boris saying the act was up and down like a sewing machine.
  • We see Marietta's photography gallery of monochromatic life-sized nudes, male and female, from both front and back, thus showing full frontal and rear nudity of both sexes.
  • When John says his lover cast aspersions about his manhood, Boris sarcastically asks if that was about size, duration or erectile dysfunction.
  • It's mentioned that Marietta is in a very happy menage a trois.
  • When Boris learns of Melody now being in love with Randy, Boris sarcastically asks if she wants to live in a threesome like her mother.
  • About his lover, John tells a man he's met in a bar (who's gay) that he couldn't later make love to her, but it was fine at first. He also states he never had a burning sexual desire for Marietta, but says he had a thing for a male tight end in school and comments on that man being bent over. We realize that John is gay, and later see these two men as gay lovers (although nothing more than a New Year's Eve kiss at a party).
  • We see Marietta in bed with Leo and their third lover, all asleep.
  • There's a comment equating being in the NRA with having sexual inadequacies.
  • John tells Marietta that making love to her was like a square peg in a round hole (referring to him hiding his homosexuality at the time).
  • Boris talks of the odds of one sperm meeting an egg to create a particular person.
  • SMOKING
  • Marietta, Leo and the third man in their love triangle smoke from a hookah.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Boris states his father committed suicide due to be depressed. He adds that he tried himself, but failed.
  • In a flashback, Boris reminds his first wife of her affair, with her saying it was a brief interlude of infidelity. About why he married her, Boris says she loved sex, but the two end up arguing. It's then implied that he jumped out the window to kill himself, but hit a canopy, leaving him with a limp. We then hear that the two then divorced.
  • We hear that Melody has run away from home.
  • Marietta informs Melody that her father left her (Marietta) for her best friend.
  • Melody cheats on Boris with Randy and then informs her husband that she's fallen for Randy.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Boris' statement that various big ideas that govern people's lives (religion, democracy, etc.) are good, but their flaw is the assumption that people are decent.
  • Boris' statement that humans are a failed species.
  • Boris' philosophy of "whatever works" is how one should live their life, as long as you don't hurt anybody.
  • Boris states his father committed suicide due to be depressed. He adds that he tried himself, but failed. He then tries in the film by throwing himself out the window, but fails at that (played for comedy).
  • We see a flashback to Boris having a panic attack.
  • We hear that Melody has run away from home.
  • Boris states people hate foreigners, adding that it's the American way.
  • May-December relationships.
  • Marietta (con) and Leo (pro) briefly debate abortion.
  • It's mentioned that Marietta is in a very happy menage a trois.
  • The comment that happiness is by chance.
  • Boris talks of the odds of one sperm meeting an egg to create a particular person.
  • Boris stating he's the only person who sees the whole picture (about life, etc.).
  • VIOLENCE
  • In an old movie, we see guys chasing another, with one finally grabbing the one fleeing.
  • Marietta faints and hits the floor upon learning Boris is her son-in-law.
  • Boris throws himself through his window, crashing through the glass. We don't see the impact below, but hear that he landed on a woman passing by down there, and then see her in the hospital with a cast on her leg and arm (played for comedy).



  • Reviewed June 4, 2009 / Posted July 3, 2009

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