Ira & Abby (2006)What a special sweet film about two people who meet, fall in love (totally and instantly), and make a go of marriage.Ira is played by Chris Messina who is disgruntled and ambitious, and he's really good at playing a mild and likable malcontent. He is going to therapy to find happiness, and getting nowhere.Abby is played by Jennifer Westfeldt and she's a sensation, a total gem on screen, scintillating and in her warm oddball way, utterly lovable. She is the opposite, of course, as movies like this require, which means she has no ambition and is utterly happy all the time. She's so happy she infects Ira with happiness--how simple is that?--and the whole movie, as well. And the audience. It's a kind of wonder how it works on everything. In a bad mood? See this movie.The best parts of the movie really show Abby's effect on Ira, on Ira's family, on strangers, and then, eventually, on herself as she has to face some unhappiness. An example scene will help--the couple are on the subway when a man with a gun sticks everyone up for money, maybe ten people. Abby sweetly (and without cornball excess, that's the wonder of it) asks him how much he needs. She'll give it to him. He's gradually mollified as she goes around collecting money from the other passengers and gets what he needs. He's suddenly willing to take a little less (this is the comedy, of course) and you see how in some bubble reality this kind of kindness might actually work. (She discovers him later with a job, and you sense that she saved him somehow by giving him that bit of sunshine.)Okay, you might wonder how to build a whole movie on this. Well, there are complications with the parents, who have various kinds of relationship problems themselves. No clues here. Eventually it's a comic can of worms and all very fun. Perfect? No, but excellent overall. I could watch it again, which says a lot for this kind of lightweight fare. Westfeldt deserves it.
My husband picked this title out of a bin of discount DVDs, hoping for a light romantic comedy. What we got was not light, definitely not romantic, and while it had funny moments, it left a bitter taste in the mouth. Ira is a young man with no direction in life. After 12 years of therapy, he cannot even decide what to order at a restaurant. Then he meets Abby, who seems to have all the answers. Or does she? The movie seems to be trying to make a point about love vs. chemistry, sex vs. love, and whether marriage is viable in this day and age. The director cannot seem to decide whether this is a heartwarming love story or a satire about therapists. Excellent performances by a stellar cast do not make it any easier to figure out what the point might be. There are a few magical moments, but they don't seem to go anywhere.
This film was one of the worst I have seen in years. The script reminded me of a childhood game where you supply random nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and then insert them into a previously written paragraph. Actually, the game was funnier than this movie. The worst aspect of this film is the lack of authenticity that permeates the film. None of the characters has a personality; they all behave as if they were in a bad sitcom, reciting random lines that are supposed to be quirky but which are trivial at best. In addition, none of the characters displays even a cursory knowledge of the profession they are supposed to be in. For example, Ira is supposed to be working on a dissertation, but you never hear him talk about it or even mention what university he is supposed to attend. As for intelligence, Ira exhibits no more brain activity than a fruit fly. He makes no cultural or scientific references in the entire movie, making it impossible to determine what his "dissertation" might be. As for Abby, she is supposed to be a gym instructor, and maybe a physical therapist, but all she does is munch on junk food and spew out psychobabble. I have been in physical therapy, and I certainly never encountered anyone as vapid as Abby. This adds up to a film without any value. In a Woody Allen film you will hear references to literature, philosophy, and history, and the sound track will frequently feature classical and jazz music that meshes with the action (for example, Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" quartet in his "Crimes and Misdemeanors"). In this film, you have a cultural void. Sadly, the films I see from Iran and Bangladesh at the Montreal Film Festival have more cultural references than this film. Another terrible aspect of the film is its use of clichés. In one scene, the characters are forced to go into the subway (horrors!), and of course there is a man who brandishes a pistol and holds up the people in the car. Naturally, Abby has to make this funny, so she takes up a collection. To those of us who used the subway for decades, and whose chief concern was trying to deal with the delays and the inaudible sound system, this paranoid view of the subway is one more false note in the movie. Later, a flashback serves as an excuse for a sick adolescent male fantasy, as Ira imagines that Abby makes out with all the men in the car. I know that movies that display firearms have a better chance of getting distribution, and that women behaving licentiously (in other bad films women usually kiss other women for no reason) tends to be seen as edgy, but these devices are presented in an extremely contrived manner. In short, you would be hard pressed to find a movie with less content or intelligence.
I saw this film at the LA film festival, and enjoyed it, even if it left me pretty much right away. The plot is one we've seen before, almost a sitcom plot, outgoing girl meets nebbishy guy. It's kind of a cross between an older Woody Allen film and Darhma and Greg, but what makes it enjoyable is the cast.The two leads are fine, but it's the supporting pros that steal the film with relish whenever they can. Robert Klein, Frances Conroy, Fred Willard all seem to be having a very fun time, and that translates right out into the audience.I think it was shot on digital instead of film, which makes it kind of different to look at, but not unpleasant at all.A fun date movie!