A few hours after the psychiatrist he’s been seeing for twelve years tells him it’s time to end therapy since their “relationship” is no longer working, Ira Black (Chris Messina) decides to tour a health club on a whim. With four pages of questions thrust at him on a fluorescent clipboard, Ira sits and waits for his tour only to have his beautiful, free-spirited guide Abby Willoughby (Jennifer Westfeldt) arrive forty-five minutes late, snacking on French fries and advising him not to join the health club since she hates exercise herself. Hardly the right way to approach a possible commission, Ira is intrigued despite himself by her openness right off the bat and the two reach a level of intimacy that most of us struggle to attain with a potential mate fairly quickly and before he knows it, he’s revealing intimate problems such as his aversion to making decisions or finishing things. An aspiring psychologist who is unable to finish his dissertation, the two chat for roughly six hours before Abby asks him to analyze her. He does so and it’s a negative, sharply defined analysis yet one free of any pretentions or flattery to lure her into bed and surprised by his accuracy, Abby impulsively asks Ira to marry her and even more to his surprise, Ira finds himself accepting and thus begins one of the most adorable romantic comedies in recent memory.
Winner of the Best Feature and Actress Awards at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in addition to other accolades at festivals across the country, Kissing Jessica Stein writer/star Jennifer Westfeldt penned an even more irresistible romantic comedy with the indie sleeper Ira and Abby. Director Robert Cary’s movie is so likable that, like as Ebert said about Juno, you almost want to "hug" it as it sneaks up on viewers with the leads’ tangible chemistry and unaffected dialogue that will have us falling in love with the film just as quickly as Ira and Abby fall for each other.
With terrific supporting turns by Frances Conroy, Fred Willard, Robert Klein and Judith Light and an authenticity, intellectuality and spontaneity that elevates it far beyond most mainstream Hollywood fare, I’m hoping that Ira and Abby, like another similarly themed indie favorite Happy Accidents, will find a much larger audience on DVD.