Amid its inquiry into the feasibility of monogamy, marriage, and true love, Ira & Abby raises a more pressing issue: Is this all there is to mainstream indie filmmaking? Little more than an elongated sitcom masquerading as a Woody Allen film, this rom com from Jennifer Westfeldt is about as groundbreaking and fascinating as a spam sandwich. A cheery, colorfully photographed homily about both matrimony as a cultural construct that impedes true happiness, as well as the necessity of honesty and open communication in a healthy relationship, Westfeldt’s tale (directed by Robert Cary) follows anxious Ira (Chris Messina), a psychology PhD candidate who can’t cope with—much less finish—anything he undertakes, after he attempts to change his life by getting a gym membership and winds up impulsively marrying the workout establishment’s carefree, people-person sales rep Abby (Westfeldt). He obsesses over everything while she blithely follows her heart, making them an odd couple whose whirlwind romance can only lead to trouble, which arrives in a variety of faux-kooky ways involving former lovers and less-than-sterling parental role models. Ira’s overbearing analyst mother (Judith Light) falls for Abby’s laidback bohemian father (Fred Willard), one of many developments intended to provide zany laughs as well as life lessons about the fallacy of marriage offering guarantees of contentment or faithfulness. Despite portraying a blissfully optimistic, intuition-guided ditz, Westfeldt is nonetheless sharp, and manages to out-charm her leading man, whose neurotic Jewish shtick—full of indecisive stammers, exaggerated eye rolls, and flummoxed hand gestures—feels like a photocopy of an imitation. Still, that most everything about Ira and Abby lands with a mild thud is due mainly to a script acutely short on laughs and emotion but intensely long on cute montages, signpost speeches, and cameos from former and current NBC-employed funnymen (Jason Alexander and Chris Parnell as therapists, Darrell Hammond as a plastic surgeon) who are expected to increase the material’s comedy quotient simply by lending their presence to the proceedings, but don’t.
- Magnolia Pictures
- 105 min
- Robert Cary
- Jennifer Westfeldt
- Jennifer Westfeldt, Chris Messina, Judith Light, Jason Alexander, Frances Conroy, Darrell Hammond, Robert Klein, Chris Parnell, Fred Willard
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