Directed by Robert Cary, writer-producer Jennifer Westfeldt's follow-up to her surprise hit Kissing Jessica Stein centers on Ira (Chris Messina), a neurotic New York Jew who enters into an on-and-off relationship with Abby (Westfeldt), a loopy, free-spirited shiksa. (Um, yeah—Annie Hall called, and it wants its plot back.) The overall effect is that of an aging vaudevillian making a good-hearted but embarrassing attempt to entertain us with stock characters and stock jokes and stock shtick. Westfeldt based the character of Abby on herself, which might explain why she's a flawless, practically Christ-like figure, persecuted by Ira's anxieties and worshipped by doormen and cab drivers. If this seems unrealistic, it's even harder to imagine how a jobless grad student could afford the cavernous Upper West Side apartment that Ira inhabits. Ira & Abby is strongly invested in an idea of itself as a "New York movie," but its self-professed love for the city is a sham. Why not celebrate New York as it really is, dour cabbies, tiny apartments, and all?
Westfeldt recycles Woody Allen's New York.
Opens at Metro, Fri., Oct. 5. Rated R. 101 minutes.