Whatever Works
' title is the mantra of inveterate curmudgeon Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David), as well as that of Woody Allen, whose latest – and first to be set in his beloved Manhattan since 2004's Melinda and Melinda – hews as tightly to his trademark preoccupations as Of Mice and Men's Lenny clung to his rabbit. Casting David makes sense, as the Curb Your Enthusiasm star's crotchety on-screen persona more than slightly recalls that of Allen's. Yet rather than an inspired meeting of kindred minds, their collaboration does little except reinforce the notion that Allen's creative well has long since run dry, his films now split into either inert, heavy-handed, detached spectacles of pretty people doing naughty things in foreign locales (Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), or leaden comedic larks in which notable names embody Allen's archetypal kvetching role.

An erudite string-theory professor and all-around misanthrope with suicidal tendencies and an extensive vocabulary, David's Boris grumps and grouches like countless other Allen protagonists, right down to his guiding philosophy that the world is a cold, random place full of regret and misery, and that any rare chances at happiness should be seized.
categories Reviews, Cinematical