Tuesday, November 3, 2009

'Whatever' Stinks

(DVD Review)


Starring Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, Michael McKean, Henry Cavill and Ed Begley Jr.
Directed by Woody Allen.

Ever watch Curb Your Enthusiasm? Larry David plays a warm, fuzzy, benevolent older man whose optimistic look on life only brings joy to those around him.

At least in comparison to Boris Yelnikoff, the character he plays here.

To say Boris is cynical is to say Jeffrey Dahmer had peculiar tastes. Boris is supposedly a brilliant physicist, but he's so convinced of his intellectual superiority that he has no patience for all other human beings, i.e. people he perceives as less intelligent as himself. Woody Allen's whiny ever-shrinking worldview is on display, and David doesn't quite have the acting talent to pull this character off. A guy this miserable would probably be doing the world a favor if one of his suicide attempts would succeed.

But since this is Woody Allen's world, a beautiful girl one-third his age gets a crush on him. Melanie (Evan Rachel Wood) is a homeless girl that Boris takes in and she's so dumb that she takes his insults in stride, and they get married. Huh. Boris teaches her the finer things in life: how to not use cliches in speech, how there is no God and no point to life and that we're all a big cesspool of molecules smashing against each other with no purpose or meaning, and how she should wash her hands for the appropriate amount of time.

One reliable element of Allen's movies is there's always an actor or two who has a blast, and Patricia Clarkson, as Melanie's Southern mama, is the performer here who stands out.

Rated PG-13, though there is a scene at an art show with male and female frontal nudity in the photos on the wall.

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