Mr. wOw: Less Than Wowed by ‘Whatever Works’

Woody Allen’s cinematic return to his stomping grounds? Well, the after party was good, anyway … 

All during recent the screening of Woody Allen’s new film, “Whatever Works,” Mr. wOw kept hearing the lyrics to Cole Porter’s “Take Me Back to Manhattan” running through his head. In the form of a … funeral dirge.

“WW” is Woody’s cinematic return to his home ground, NYC, the site of most of his famous films, after several years abroad, movie-wise. But Mr. wOw thinks Woody should have stayed in Barcelona with Vicky and Christina. This is not a triumph, and the star of the film, Larry David, is no actor, delivering the most annoying one-note performance of all time. (He is best known as the creator, co-producer and head writer of “Seinfeld.”)

This was a role Woody should have taken himself. So he’s 70-something and would be seen romancing a girl of 21. He’s had that kind of criticism, for his reel and real life for years. Larry David’s no kid either.

The divine Patricia Clarkson, young Evan Rachel Wood and Henry Cavill do their best struggling for life on this small Titanic of a film.

Still and all, the Cinema Society’s Andrew Saffir threw a romantically lavish after party, shipping all the guests from Battery Park across the river to Brooklyn’s River Café. Everybody’s hair collapsed in the brisk night wind. Among those floating: movie star Brooke Shields (more towering and goddessy than ever in something long and white and draped); NBC’s hot honcho Dan Abrams; the iconic Barbara Walters; Zsa Zsa Gabor – oh, no, wait, it was Arianna Huffington; sexy Stanley Tucci; gorgeous Patrick Wilson; movie star inquisitor James Lipton; lovely but perilously slim Swoosie Kurtz; writer Jay McInerney; comic Caroline Rhea; PR hotshot Scott Gorenstein; “Let Me Die Quietly” filmmaker Charles Casillo; Martha Stewart; Andrew McCarthy; producer Hilary Shor (who is trying to get Liza Minnelii back on the big screen); Rocco DiSpirito and dozens of others too dispirito-d by “Whatever Works” to do anything more than slug back champagne and vodka on the rocks and fight over the delicious, tiny hors d’oeuvres. (And later, delicious, tiny portions of real food.) OK, some people said they loved it. It’s gonna be like that: love or loathe. No in-between.

The best thing Mr. wOw saw? Debbie Bancroft’s dolphin-shaped Judith Leiber handbag. The most perfect clutch ever. The best thing he heard? Dick Cavett: “I was out riding and a woman approached me and said, ‘What is the name of your horse?’ I can’t for the life of me know why, but I said, ‘Piggy!’”

And then there was Larry David, asked by an attendee what he, Larry, thought of his own film. Larry replied he was pleased, and then asked said attendee the same. Attendee paused, put out his hand and said, “It was so nice to meet you. I loved ‘Seinfeld’” Mr. David was not happy. (Cruel Attendee wasn’t Mr. wOw, just in case you’re mulling that thought.)

Oops! Almost forgot. Michelle Paterson, the First Lady of NY State, was also there. Lovely, lovely, woman. But you know a Woody Allen film set in New York hasn’t quite worked out when the governor’s lady says, “Uh, where was this movie shot?”

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