Sunday, November 22, 2009
I'm not a Woody Allen fan, but I had to see one of his latest films, Whatever Works, since it features the extremely talented comedian Larry David. Being a Larry David fan, I had to see it. He isn't one to star in movies--let alone his own television show--so I knew this one had to be pretty good.
When David interviewed on Conan O'Brien's show to promote the film, he talked about how horrible he is as an actor. He's really not that bad. He said when Allen first asked him to do it, he refused. "I'll ruin your movie" was his reaction. I wouldn't say he ruined it at all. It seemed more like the role was written for him. I don't think we'll see David in more films, but this role was made just for him. He was Boris Yelnikoff.
Whatever Works is different from other comedies I've seen. The writing was very intelligent and well written. I'll give Allen that. The actors did a great job of delivering very clever one-liners and longer monologues.
The film stars Larry David as Boris Yelnikoff, an extremely intelligent man who almost wins A Nobel Prize. He used to be a professor teaching music and chess, but he stops doing that after a revelation. He divorces his wife and lives alone in the city where he teaches young boys to play chess; although he is very abrasive and rude to these boys.
Boris is so brutally honest that it's funny. He makes stunning observations about his surrounding world and will announce them even if it will offend the person listening. He will be honest about the kids he is teaching, right to their parents. He will make straight-forward comments to the people concerning them. He doesn't care. He does "whatever works." That's his new philosophy on life.
One day, he meets a girl on his doorstep, Melodie, who has traveled from the south to live in New York City, her land of dreams. Boris is reluctant to let her stay there, but she ends up crashing there for a long time. She isn't very smart in the least, but he is fascinated by her. One night when she returns home drunk, they decide to marry, even though they are VERY far apart in age.
A year later, Melodie's mother finds her in NYC and stays with them. She is distraught with the marriage and vows to herself to break it up and find her someone more suitable. She succeeds--she introduces Melodie to Randy whom she soon has an affair with. They separate. Boris's friends, and even Melodie's mom, start to pair off.
Like in the beginning, Boris tries to commit suicide. Boris failed the first time because he landed on an awning. This time, he lands on a woman, Helena, who he then ends up with. He does "whatever works."
This movie was different because Boris directly spoke to the audience, which isn't normally done in films. It's like when Ferris Bueller would do it, except much more in depth. You'll see it more in plays, but not necessarily in movies.
In the beginning of the film, it opens up with Boris, in present day, chatting with his friends. He mentions an audience watching him and how they're probably eating their popcorn with their overpriced tickets (alluding to the theatre experience). Obviously, his friends are skeptical. He then walks down the street, addressing the camera, to tell us his life story.
David goes on a solid five+ minute monologue where he discloses his thoughts on life and of his past. It's absolutely incredible. The whole time I kept thinking, "How did David memorize all of this?" It really is a brilliant monlogue. It seems longer than a normal play or movie would have one. But, the fact that Boris is aware of us as an audience proves how intelligent he is. He will even speak to us even though others thinks he's crazy. He just does whatever works for him.
Overall, a great story, great plot, great acting, great writing. I was impressed. It's very different from anything you'll ever see. And if you like Larry David, this is a must see. He stays in his character (from other roles) which is what we all love.
What do you think of Whatever Works?