Then the worst possible thing that could happen happens. His analyst breaks up with him.
Desperate to take control after this bomb drops, Ira joins a health club, and quickly finds a new therapist in an unlikely person-- the woman selling memberships. While Abby (Jennifer Westfeldt) has zero skill at getting people to join the gym, she may well be the best psychologist in Manhattan. Members come to her for advice on everything from love to head shots. She listens. She offers French fries. She cares. She's such a good shrink that six hours after Ira meets her, Abby's still excitedly helping him solve his problems. She even has a solution for his relationship problem: Marry me.
It's the perfect rebound. One therapist breaks up with you; marry the next.
Taxi Driver's Manhattan, It's Not
The stomping ground of Ira and Abby is a cross between Woody Allen lite and sitcom New York. Taxi Driver's Manhattan it's not. The world is the big, bright stage of Allen's Upper West Side, where everyone has great clothes and expensive angst. Like Seinfeld's New York, it's a small town where everyone runs into everyone they know everywhere they go. A minimum wage offers the same lifestyle as on Friends . Everybody lives in a glorious apartment. And every one's in therapy.
While the sugar-coated New York will ultimately appeal to some and turn others off, the real fun in this film comes from the surprising turns of the story. These surprises start early and come often, and to give them away would spoil what's best about Ira and Abby.
Ms. Light's over-coiffed narcissist particularly shines, as does Maddie Corman as Ira's old flame Lea. There are several cameo appearances by New York comedic actors, including Jason Alexander, Darrell Hammond, and Chris Parnell in the roles of -- what else? -- more doctors.
The best scenes involve psychotherapy rearing its head in the oddest of places: at the Twilighty-Zoney health club, where a member who dreams of an acting career rehearses a poolside monologue for the good therapist Abby; on the subway, where a gun-wielding mugger is calmed by Abby's magic; and in a couples therapy session, where Abby becomes the doctor for the doctor and "wins therapy."
Throughout, there are mini-lectures on matrimony, and riffs on the philosophies espoused in Harvey and The Music Man, regarding believing in lies (marriage), truth (what is it?) and in learning to ultimately choose which movie you're going to use as the backdrop of your own life. Ira and Abby is one that lives in its own doll house world, with its own starry-eyed backdrop, and in the end, we know, all will be okay.