Ira (Messina) is a neurotic New York grad student stuck in a dead-end relationship; he shows up one day at the neighborhood gym to purchase a membership. Abby (Kissing Jessica Stein’s Westfeldt, who wrote the screenplay) is the free-spirited sales manager whose tour of the premises includes a round of noisy sex and an instant marriage proposal. The pair is hitched within the film’s first 20 minutes; the fate of their spontaneous union is the subject of the remaining 85. Complicating matters are Ira’s jaded therapist parents, Abby’s goofball mom and pop, and a phalanx of mental-health professionals enlisted to help the newlyweds succeed.
In the 1938 classic Holiday, Cary Grant falls for Katharine Hepburn over the course of a party, and we accept their improbable romance because the stars really do appear to align. But we hardly know Ira or Abby during their whirlwind courtship, and nothing convinces us they’re really meant for one another. Falling in love is a leap of faith, not unlike the leap that romantic comedy demands of the audience: Believe in these sweethearts, clichés and all. In Ira and Abby, the protagonists make the leap without even looking; viewers, however, may find their feet firmly planted on the ground.