I didn’t really want to review Whatever Works because I saw it late, I don’t like writing reviews, and I didn’t think I could say anything that hadn’t already been said. Then I saw Whatever Works and I had lots of feelings.
This movie, and more importantly, the beginning of it, came at a point in my life in which I am attempting to analyze and do away with my unhealthy obsession with undoing teen-movies through the actions of my life. Undoing teen-movies isn’t unhealthy, but my methods of doing this is. … very much so. Since I was in high-school I have wanted girls to like me. Okay, more specific. I’ve wanted to create friendships with much prettier girls only to have them realize in a fit of honesty, and possibly drunkeness, that they are deeply and unmanageably in love with me. This is where my fantasy undoes the teen movie. I want to reject them because I did not have those same desires towards them. I want them to want me, and think that I want them only to make them feel miserably pathetic because they followed a contrived, cliche, copycat formula to fin love, and in my twisted psyche they deserve this punishment. “Miserably pathetic” is a feeling that I am used to and am trained to assume is the typical feeling I should have when I want to have sex. Well, “fuck you” pretty girl who is surprisingly proficient at something I’m interested in. I’d rather bone the uglier girl who has the annoying laugh and makes people uncomfortable with her constant talk of vaginal excretions.
The big problem has been that I love to place people into that first category (The “Perfect” Girl) and force an awkward sexual tention, and have a bunch of people assume that me and “perfect” girl are dating, and have my friends think I’m desperately into the girl, only to have the pleasure of rejecting her advances that never come.
As I got older, and believed myself to be wiser, this disgusting fantasy of backwards crushing began to involve the girl be educated by me. She would see my indignance and views on religion, love, and society as enlightening and that would force her to realize that she had a deep sexual and intellectual infatuation for me, which I would reject.
Fucked up. I know. I claim no higher moral purpose, and ask for no pity.
My recognition of these desires and the sexism inherent within them – though I claim more egotism than sexism because I assume I’d have the same fantasy if I were gay – has made me just have uncomfortable non-sexual tension with most of these women and usually involves angry fights that should only happen between people who are boning. Each of my relationships with these women forced into the role of my perfect/anti-perfect girl has ended differently or continues now, hopefully without this element of tension and misogyny.
I’ve counted over a half dozen women that fit into this category and all of them hopefully recognize that respect them dearly and have only come to respect them more through this self-analysis.
So Whatever Works starts with my gross fantasy: an idealized version of my indignance finds a cute but dumb girl, educates her, and she falls in love with him. I loved this movie because I thought it was being presented as a/my fantasy, but then instead of Larry David fulfilling my desires he marries the dumb southern child. This allows Woody Allen to explore his already over-explored theory of “Whatever works” – as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody whatever you want to do works. He throws in a healthy dose of “luck and chance are the greatest variables in life” – the part of Woody’s philosophy that I disagree with most and am most annoyed with – and ends with everyone happy in their societally determined immoral relationships.
Two big problems:
1. Larry David’s character is a prick. I love it, and think that it was a bold and powerful choice to create such an unlikable and (at least to me) relateable character. Especially because of the fantasy element and how that relates to fiction in that it analyzes if fiction is just fantasy renamed (see: last scene in Annie Hall), Larry David’s character made me delve into a deeper self-analysis – a powerful thing for a movie to do. But, because he’s a dick, society should not accept him. It would have been fine for him to be happy and alone (sorta like “Confederacy of Dunces”), but he maintains friendships through his incredible ability to insult. This proved unrealistic and therefore made the message less pertinent – almost too fantastical to even be a realistic fantasy. Too bad because I think Curb Your Enthusiasm illustrations societal disfunction well, where Larry David constantly loses friends because of his “well-intentioned” honesty of dickishness.
2. The movie ended making me feel like it should have been called Everything Works. I see this as very different than whatever you do it’ll work out. I see this as everything you do, no matter who weird, is a positive influence toward an end goal of good. I wish this movie had followed my thought process/life process (as all movies should), and had Larry reject Evan Rachel Wood, only to realize his motivations were immoral and try to become a new, more moral, person by falling in love with the teenager, only to realize that that was not good either, and so on in a spiraling out of control in deconstruction of fiction as a concept that ends with bitter reality. I guess I wish that it had been called: Not Much Works.
To end on a little optimist swing: I don’t think things work out, but I do think that a lack of comfort forces new experiences and change, both of which are my interpretation of the purpose of life. So maybe it should be called: Not Much Works, but That’s Good Because Working is Boring.
I really like being unemployed.
Also Larry and Evan both suck at acting but that’s less pertinent to my life besides that it made me jealous that they got to work with Woody Allen instead of me.