Westfeldt says ‘I do.' And then ‘I don't.' And then ‘I do.' And then…

Ira & Abby: A Divorce Comedy

on September 14, 2007 by Chad Greene
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A wise man—okay, it was Don Henley—once observed that, “In a New York minute, everything can change.”

But Ira (Chris Messina) is in such a neurotic rut that it takes about 360 New York minutes for everything to change. After an increasingly intimate six-hour conversation with Abby (Jennifer Westfeldt), a free spirit who spends more time solving the problems of the patrons of the health club where she works than selling memberships to walk-ins like Ira, he feels better than he did after 12 years of analysis. Although normally indecisive to the point of paralysis, Ira actually accepts an impulsive proposal from Abby.

“Do you want to get married?” she asks. “Why not take a shot? Half of all marriages end in divorce, anyway—we'd probably have as good a shot as anybody.”

It's only after the fast fiancés run off to meet each other's parents that Ira remembers to break up with Lea (Maddie Corman), his girlfriend of nine years, via voicemail. Despite that, and the cautionary examples of their own parents' messy marriages, however, Ira and Abby's initial passion propels them giddily to the altar.

But, somehow, Ira just can't believe that their honeymooners' happiness can last. “We can't go around feeling good all the time,” he protests at one point. “It's just not done.”

And when Ira discovers that his 30-year-old bride has already been married before (twice!), he asks for an annulment and begins to question whether mankind's nominal endorsement of monogamy is some sort of mass self-deception. Not helping to raise either his—or her—estimation of the institution is their discovery that Ira's mother (Judith Light) is having an affair with Abby's father (Fred Willard).

Although a deeply funny follow-up to Kissing Jessica Stein from that film's co-writer and co-star Westfeldt, Ira & Abby —in which all the major characters are in either analysis or therapy and discuss the difference at laughable length—is very much a “New York” movie. That may limit its drawing power in other markets, which would be a shame. Whatever her views of marriage, Westfeldt proves herself an ultimately unselfish partner onscreen—giving many of the best lines to her hilarious co-star Messina.

“Maybe marriage is just a fad that's had an unusually long run,” he theorizes at one point.

In the spirit of the subject matter, perhaps a champagne toast is in order: To Ira & Abby, may they have a long run of their own.
Distributor: Magnolia
Cast: Chris Messina, Jennifer Westfeldt, Fred Willard, Frances Conroy, Judith Light, Robert Klein, Maddie Corman, Jason Alexander, Darrell Hammond and Chris Parnell
Director: Robert Cary
Screenwriter: Jennifer Westfeldt
Producer: Brad Zions
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: R for language and some sexual content
Running time: 105 min.
Release date: September 14, 2007 NY/LA, September and October exp.
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