Sunday, February 03, 2008

Ira & Abby: Grade A

Ira & Abby (2006)
Chris Messina, Jennifer Westfeldt (also wrote), with Robert Klein, Jason Alexander, Fred Willard. Director Robert Cary.

Fabulously wealthy but neurotic Manhattanites struggle to find and maintain romantic relationships, while making ironic, sarcastic, and sardonic quips about life, family and psychotherapy. Sound familiar? If Woody Allen appeared in this movie you wouldn’t be surprised. Ira (Messina) is an intelligent but socially inept Ph.D. student who is fired by his psychoanalyst. He meets Abby (Westfeldt) in a health club and they are enchanted with each other immediately. Abby’s character is reminiscent of the loopy, airhead role played by Mira Sorvino in Allen’s 1996 Mighty Aphrodite, which highlights a distinction: Allen’s New York comedies have layers of sophisticated literary and cinematic allusion that this competent but light comedy lacks.

Ira and Abby impulsively get married and the game is on. Jealousy, suspicion, infidelity, relationships with ex-partners, mistaken identities, the awkwardness of breaking up and reconciling, compatibility of different lifestyles; all the standard relationship foibles are explored. If there are any overarching themes, one is to question the nature of marriage itself. There are some very funny scenes in which the meaning and value of marriage is discussed. We see weddings, divorce, remarriage, annulment, and finally rejection of the very institution of marriage. A less heavy-handed theme is a hilarious ridicule of psychotherapy. A closing scene with all the story’s therapists, analysts, psychologists and psychiatrists in attendance with the principal players had me squawking with delight. What raises this lightweight comedy up to excellence is the outstanding acting by almost everyone. It is a joy to watch. If you like Woody Allen movies, you’ll love this knockoff.

No comments:

Post a Comment