Welcome to the movies at PS News.
Each week, PS News's film critic Victor Rebikoff will highlight the latest offerings from the silver screen and share his expert commentary for our information and guidance.
Director: Woody Allen, Hopscotch, Rated M, 113 mins
Woody Allen's latest comedy (following his successful hit, Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona) is a return to his traditional style of writing and directing.
His original script (written more than 30 years ago) combines Allen's bleak view of life with a satirical plot line.
Not to overlook some fine performances from the leading cast members-Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, and Patricia Clarkson.
It is fair to say that the lead actor Larry David (Seinfeld) definitely fills the well-known Woody Allen role as the eccentric New Yorker Boris Yellnikoff, a pessimistic neurotic who has a dim view of the world and calls its inhabitants ‘idiots’.
This is exemplified in the opening scenes when Boris openly berates the audience for watching this movie, stating “if you’re one of the idiots who needs to feel-good, then go and get yourself a foot massage.”
As a retired physicist, Boris has turned his back on much of what society has to offer, spending his days teaching chess to children while publicly humiliating them.
Despite his grouchy disposition, Boris agrees to provide refuge to a young woman named Melodie (played by the beautiful Evan Rachel Wood from The Wrestler).
It is not long before her separated parents turn up in an attempt to rescue their impressionable but naïve daughter.
Melodie’s mother, Marietta (a wonderful performance by the Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona actress Patricia Clarkson) faints on her arrival at the apartment after being told by Melodie that she has married Boris - a much older man to that envisaged by her mother.
Whatever Works is vintage Allen, with the title of the movie depicting the philosophy of life expressed by Boris as he interacts with his few friends and especially with the lead characters, not to mention their unexpected romantic entanglements.
This invariably includes Melodie finding another love interest due to a great deal of manipulation by her mother.
There is no doubt that Allen’s latest production is a mature comedy with a number of laughs mainly generated by David’s plethora of gags, some of which have a pessimistic undertone.
The message ultimately conveyed is that one overcomes life’s many problems through ‘whatever works’, however this only works if one subscribes to Allen’s philosophy of a life which may not always work for everyone else.
VIC'S VERDICT: 2½ Rubber Stamps