Whatever Works

Whatever Works



The reason I wanted to see “Whatever Works” is that I like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” so much.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” is a half hour HBO comedy that has been one of the funniest, most outrageous programs on television since it debuted in 2000.

The show stars Larry David as himself: a mostly retired comedian who lives off the fortune he made as co-creator of “Seinfeld.” David shares a gorgeous Los Angeles mansion with his terrific wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines).

David has a charmed existence, but he manages to make life difficult – and hilarious – with his self-destructive obsessions and terrible social skills.

Each week David finds new, ridiculous ways to avoid becoming a happy, well-adjusted man by steadfastly refusing to accept the simple rules of our culture.

He is at once a brilliant, open-minded social observer and a foolish, cantankerous jerk.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” works for a mainstream audience, though, because Larry David’s self-absorbed eccentricity is perfectly balanced by his wife’s sensible normalcy. Cheryl Hines makes you believe that a well-adjusted, reasonable woman could be married to a misanthrope like Larry even though she is fully aware of what a nut he is.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” isn’t like a dumb network sitcom where the wife nags and makes fun of her idiot husband; Cheryl never hesitates to point out Larry’s flaws, but she does so with exactly the right amount of patience and respect that one would expect from a good wife.

Larry David’s unique worldview makes “Curb Your Enthusiasm” hilarious. But it is Larry and Cheryl’s believable relationship that makes it a great show.

If only “Whatever Works” were half as funny and believable. In his first major movie role, Larry David plays Boris Yellnikoff. Boris used to be a successful physicist before he divorced his wife, attempted suicide, and dropped out of society.

Now he lives alone in a disgusting apartment and ekes out a subsistence living teaching chess. But mostly Boris spends his time insulting the human race for being way dumber than he is.

Boris’s attempt to push the rest of the world away is thwarted when a beautiful young homeless girl named Melodie (Evan Rachel Wood) begs him to take her in. Melodie falls for HIM, believe it or not, and they end up getting married.

Wood (“The Wrestler”) is a superb actress, and she does an admirable job of trying to convince us that a delightful young lady like Melodie could be into an old grump like Boris. But the situation is simply too preposterous and contrived to take seriously.

I like Larry David as you can tell and I enjoyed listening to Boris rant and rave about how dumb everyone is and how sad and meaningless life is. I even agreed with most of his arguments. However, I didn’t find his speeches very funny and the points that he makes are the same ones writer/director Woody Allen has been espousing for decades.

There is nothing particularly funny or fresh about “Whatever Works.” Skip it and check out HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” instead.