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Overall Rating
2.93

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 42.86%
Total Crap: 7.14%

2 reviews, 2 user ratings


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Ira and Abby
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Hot, Steamy Loving--The Fred Willard Way"
2 stars

In my opinion, there are few things more excruciatingly painful to sit through in a film than an exercise in failed whimsy–one of those films that is just so darned cute and quirky and adorable that it practically leaps off the screen, jumps into your lap and shakes you by the lapels in order to drive home just how cute, quirky and adorable it is. You may disagree with this notion but if you want proof of the validity on this particular viewpoint, I urge you to check out “Ira And Abby,” a tiresome new romantic comedy that spends so much time reminding of how quaint and kooky it is throughout that you may find yourself pulling out your wallet or purse and offering the film some of your hard-earned money if it will agree to just simmer down and go away.

Our hero is Ira (Chris Messina), one of those self-consciously neurotic New Yorkers that seem to exist only in low-budget indie films–he can’t finish writing his thesis, he feels smothered by his overly analytical analyst parents (Robert Klein and Judith Light) and his commitment issues are so pronounced that he can’t even simply order something off the menu at the local diner without changing it around a dozen times. One day, he wanders into a local health club and meets Abby (Jennifer Westfeldt), an adorable free spirit who eats McDonalds on the job, spends more time dissuading people from joining up than she does in signing them up for memberships and seriously asks Ira to marry her less than a few hours after they meet. Under normal circumstances, you or I might flee from this person as quickly as possible but Ira is inexplicably charmed and the two are quickly wed. Not too long after the ceremony, though, friction begins to develop between the two–he is jealous of the way that she somehow manages to float through life without a care in the world while she has a couple of heretofore unmentioned marital skeletons in the closet–that lead to a series of breakups, makeups and wacky counseling sessions. To add fuel to the fire, Ira’s mom finds herself inexplicably attracted to Abby’s equally free-spirited dad, a voice-over artist played by Fred Willard. You know, the day I saw “Ira and Abby,” there are many things that I might have plausibly expected to see (an oddball dark comedy about suicide and the new Ang Lee film were also on the menu) but I have to admit, seeing some hot, steamy extra-marital loving between Angela from “Who’s The Boss?” and Fred Willard was not one of them.

In addition to co-starring in “Ira and Abby,” Jennifer Westfeldt also wrote the screenplay, her first such effort since “Kissing Jessica Stein,” that oddball indie comedy from a few years ago in which she played a frazzled New York career woman who began to flirt with the possibility that she might be a lesbian. Like “Ira and Abby,” that film offered up a contemporary take on time-honored romantic comedy conventions in which adorable kooks traded pithy dialogue with each other while prowling the streets of New York. In the case of that movie, it worked because the screenplay spent more time actually being sweet and silly and quirky instead of merely insisting that it was. Here, everything–the writing, the direction (by Robert Cary) and the performances–are so insistent on reminding you of how off-beat they are that the film quickly becomes tiresome. There are a couple of nifty ideas for scenes here and there–such as a final sequence that brings new meaning to the words “group therapy”–but they are executed so poorly that you may find yourself convinced that they accidentally used one of the misfired takes and that the good version of the scene was mistakenly left on some cutting-room floor. Even the usually reliable Willard is unable to do much to save the proceedings–it is nice to see him playing something other than a doofus for once but his character isn’t developed fully enough to give him a chance to show his performance chops to any real degree.

If you have somehow managed to go through your entire life without ever once sitting through a predictable romantic comedy in which overly articulate New Yorkers exchange self-conscious banter while walking down the streets of New York while those passing by step aside far enough to give them space to continue their conversation without interruption, there is a chance that you may indeed enjoy “Ira and Abby” and find it to be a wealth of surprises. Then again, if you have somehow managed to go through your entire life without ever once sitting through a predictable romantic comedy in which overly articulate New Yorkers exchange self-conscious banter while walking down the streets of New York while those passing by step aside far enough to give them space to continue their conversation without interruption, why would you want to break that streak with something as pointlessly precious as “Ira and Abby” in the first place?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16739&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/19/07 14:20:07
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User Comments

6/23/13 Gary The film explores the challenges marriage presents to some people but not to all. 4 stars
12/13/07 William Goss Neuroses cannot replace legitimate humor or heart. An arthouse endurance test. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Sep-2007 (R)
  DVD: 29-Jan-2008

UK
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