Probably the best way to think of SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK, written and directed by
Ed Burns (SHE'S THE ONE and THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN), is to consider it as science
fiction. How else can you explain a homely looking, bald guy like Stanley Tucci
cheating on a sexpot wife like Heather Graham? In this parallel universe, Ed
Burns is Woody Allen without the wit. A story of musical chairs among couples
who move without any conviction or commitment from one shallow relationship to
another, there are few honest or funny moments. This is a serious flaw since
the movie has a pseudo-documentary style with the actors stopping frequently to
speak directly to the camera in interviews about the quality of their sex lives
and meaning of their love lives.
The complexity of the story is barely worth remembering so forgive me if I
forget who bedded whom first. Ben (David Krumholtz) is a nerdy doorman who
looks like Sgt. Pepper. He still pines for his ex-wife, Maria (Rosario Dawson),
a sixth-grade teacher. She left him after he had an affair. Rule number one in
the story is that almost everyone has had, is having or will have an affair.
Lately Ben has been getting the hots for Ashley (Brittany Murphy), a waitress
who is nineteen going on fourteen. She initially turns him down because she is
having an affair with Griffin (Stanley Tucci), a man old enough to be her
father. A dentist who likes to goose his receptionist, Griffin is married to
Annie (Heather Graham), a real estate agent. The ever-faithful Annie is having
the moves put on her by one of her clients, Tommy (Ed Burns), who recently was
tossed out by his live-in girlfriend for committing the crime of wanting kids.
Griffin and Annie are best friends with yet another married couple, each of whom
is having an affair. Dennis Farina plays a classic older playboy named Carpo
who actually isn't cheating on anyone since he has a different woman just about
every night. And so on and so forth.
What everyone shares in common is that they talk incessantly. Nobody ever shuts
up and listens, and most of what they do say is absolute drivel. Griffin's idea
of a come-on line is, "You have the look of the new millennium." (I am not
making this up.) Miracle of miracles, this little ditty proves so powerful that
with it he can pick up gorgeous women less than half his age. And you thought
dating was hard, guys.
Given the amount of the chatter, it's probably not surprising that they do come
up with a few good lines. Maria, for example, refers to herself as a
"born-again virgin." My favorite occurs when Carpo tries to hit on Maria. "You
have to ask yourself," he tells her. "Do you want to sit on the porch with the
pups, or play in the yard with the big dogs?" And you have to ask yourself
whether you'll settle for this ersatz Woody Allen or you'll wait for the real
SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK runs 1:47. It is rated R for "sexual content and
language" and would be acceptable for most teenagers.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes