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Six New Yorkers have an interrelated series of relationships. TV producer Tommy, who's just broken up with his girlfriend, has a short relationship with commitment-phobe Maria, who he meets in a video store, and also hooks up with married real-estate agent Annie, who he meets while apartment hunting. Annie is open to a relationship because her husband, Griffin, is cheating on her, which she slowly comes to realize through talking to her friend/co-worker who's gone through the same thing. Griffin, a 39-year-old dentist, is cheating with 19-year-old waitress Ashley, who he picked up in a park; she realizes she can do better when Ben, a hotel doorman and aspiring musician, tries to pick her up, in a belated attempt to recover from his divorce a year ago from schoolteacher Maria (the same Maria from the video store). Most of these relationships seem driven more by a desperate need to be in a relationship than actual love.Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Smart, palatable social comedy of errors with flavorful New York backdrop.
Similar, yet different, from his other films ("The Brother's McMullen" and `She's the One'), writer/director/producer/actor Edward Burns, with his typical minuscule budget, broaches on Woody Allen territory this time as he explores the ooohs, aaahs and owwwws (mostly the owwwws) of the marriage and dating game. The sights and sounds of New York is in the air as the movie zeroes in on six disparate Manhattanites, all of whom trying their damnest to find the no-real answer to happiness. No belly-laughs here, but a lot of knowing smiles.
This brash, perceptive, ultimately winning cyclical comedy first introduces us to good-looking, nice-guy Tommy (Ed Burns) who has just split up with his girlfriend and has been thrown out of her apartment. Tommy takes a sudden interest in evasive school teacher Maria (Rosario Dawson), whom he meets in a video store. Maria is divorced from small, tough-talking schlmiel Ben (David Krumholtz), a doorman and rock musician wannabe who cheated on her. Ben, still pining for Maria, finds a welcome distraction in edgy student/waitress Ashley (Brittany Murphy), who is having an affair with a much older and married dentist, Griffin (Stanley Tucci), whose suspecting wife Annie (Heather Graham), a real estate agent, has her eye on one of her customers, Tommy (back to Ed Burns again), who is (remember?) looking for a new pad since his girlfriend kicked him out. So much for the Kevin Bacon six degrees of separations and divorces angle.
To punch up the thought processes of our six relationship-minded specimens, Burns has given his film a documentary/reality TV feel. Each of our protagonists express their own individual and personal philosophies on the meaning of love and sex with a `man on the street' interviewer. These telling bits are conveniently spliced here and there into each of their ongoing stories, which are not only a biting commentary on the social scene, but often humorously contradict their actions and intent.
Burns, a native New Yorker, gives us a passionate, authentic, down-to-earth vision of his 'hood. No picaresque postcard images are to be found here. No tourist-like views of Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, etc. And just as dressed-down and down-to-earth is his solid ensemble cast. The stories are evenly laid out with no one performance getting short shrift. Burns, Dawson, Tucci, Murphy, Klumholtz, and Graham all have meaty roles here and each of their stories are well-presented and attention-grabbing. The philandering Tucci character, the least sympathetic of the bunch, still manages to drum up some pity, if not sympathy, for his subsequent actions. What's more, the outside circle, the peripheral friends/instigators/colleagues, etc., add immeasurably to the humor and atmosphere of the piece, particularly Aida Turturro as a worldly wise teacher/friend of Dawson's, Dennis Farina as Burns' overt male chauvinist boss, Michael Leydon Campbell in dual roles as a rocker and male half of a bickering married couple, and Callie Thorne as the bickering wife.
No one treats New York better than Woody Allen. With "Sidewalks of New York" Edward Burns pays tribute to this fair city, and he pays homage to Mr. Allen -- 1992's "Husbands and Wives" in particular. Notice Burns' analytical approach to his characters, the hand-held camera work and jump-cut style of editing (which is actually smoother and less jolting than in Allen's above-mentioned film), the pneumatic jazz score, the reflexive, conversational-like bantering between his characters, the episodic storylines, and, most importantly, the obvious devotion he has for NY. It all but spells out W-O-O-D-Y. But, in this case, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. He's learned well from the master.
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