June 21, 2009 1 Comment
My brother and I have seen two movies together since I moved to New York City, both by Woody Allen, both at the independent Lincoln Plaza Cinema. Last August, we saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and last night we saw Whatever Works. As the prolific writer/director’s newest feature was about to begin, my brother said “Two New York Jews watching a Woody Allen movie on the Upper West Side.” With the starring role played by Larry David, it was truly a movie for people like us.
Yet, like most Woody Allen movies I have seen in recent years, I have had to prepare myself to be disappointed by self-conscious and unnatural dialogue as well as the inevitable May December romance. It always comes off a little creepy when the old neurotic, Jewish character dates the beautiful young woman (almost always gentile) in these movies, not just because of the age difference but because of the way the relationship depends on the younger woman revering the intellect of the older man.
Whatever Works did not bother me too much for these reasons, though. Maybe this was because Larry David’s intellectual wasn’t a lecherous character but rather almost asexual. Or maybe because I don’t think Woody Allen’s script actually bore out that he thought this kind of relationship, born perhaps of his fantasy (and since he started things up with his step-daughter, his real life), is functional.
No, the real fantasy in Whatever Works was the way Allen portrayed dim, God-fearing Southerners who come to New York City and are inspired to shed their small-minded ways and their NRA memberships. I guess this is the ultimate fantasy for many of us who live here.
Overall, I would give the movie a Meh, but an entertaining Meh. I liked Vicky Cristina Barcelona a lot better, though.