Ira & Abby

2007, Movie, NR, 105 mins


Actress and screenwriter Jennifer Westfeldt's follow-up to the fresh and charming NYC romantic comedy KISSING JESSICA STEIN (2001) is a stale rehash of Woody Allen-style "he's a neurotic Jew, she's a flaky shiksa" gags.

Thirty-three-year-old Ira Black (Chris Messina) has issues. Oy, does he have issues, mostly of the commitment variety. He's working towards his doctoral candidate in psychology but can't get it in gear to finish the program, is qualified to practice but hasn't been able to bring himself to actually do so, and has been stringing along his girlfriend, Lea (Maddie Corman), for nine years and has been in therapy for 12. Thank goodness Ira's controlling parents, successful analysts Seymour (Robert Klein) and Arlene (Judith Light), are picking up the financial slack! After Ira's therapist (David Margulies) shoves him from the nest with an exhortation to do something — anything — to change his life, Ira decides to join a gym: On top of everything else, Ira is feeling fat and old. Enter communications director Abby Willoughby (Westfeldt), an impulsive kook who could charm the whiskers off a sewer rat but can't sell a gym membership to save her life, and is as dependent on her warmly supportive parents, successful voiceover artists Lynne (Frances Conroy) and Michael (Fred Willard), as Ira is on his. Abby and Ira marry in haste, divorce in haste and remarry in haste, squabbling all the while and unwittingly laying the groundwork for the disruption of their parents' longstanding marriages. Brittle hilarity would ensue were the gags not so stale and overplayed.

Neither Westfeldt's sunny charm nor the best efforts of a stellar supporting cast — which includes Jason Alexander, Jon Hamm (of TV's Mad Men), Tony Award-winner Donna Murphy and longtime Saturday Night Live regular Darrell Hammond — can haul her formulaic screenplay out of its tired shtick. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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