A review of  Sidewalks of New York” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: R for nudity, language, adult situations

Run Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

 

 

I think Edward Burns is a god.  He writes, acts and directs with a vengeance, revealing a professional passion that I seriously admire.  With all this natural talent at his disposal,  Burns needs to break into something new that doesn’t revolve around love and lust.

Burns knows relationships.  Mismatches, rebounds and broken hearts are his oeuvre. But he’s tread this ground too many times, with such Indie fare as “The Brothers McMullen” and “She’s the One”.  A good serial-killer thriller is in order.

Burns is Tommy, a TV producer who has been unceremoniously dumped by his latest girl.  Temporarily homeless, Tommy moves in with his boss while looking for a new place and a fresh squeeze.  Cruising the video store shelves, Tommy happens upon Maria (Rosario Dawson), a recently-divorced sixth-grade teacher from Staten Island, who is separated from Benjamin (David Krumholtz), a struggling musician, who’s infatuated with Ashley (Brittany Murphy), who’s involved in a clandestine affair with twice-married dentist Griffin (Stanley Tucci), whose marriage to Annie is suffering because of it.  When Annie meets Tommy, the relationship boogie comes full circle.

Burns has a way with dialogue, and his characters spout some spotty but witty prose.  His multi-boroughs lovers mix (which includes representatives from Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Brooklyn, etc) is a clever concept, but falls short when the relationships fail to blossom into anything novel. Homage to Woody Allen? Perhaps if it weren’t so contrived.   Expounding on theories of love and sex in a free-flow fashion has its merits, but unless it’s well done, what’s the point?

Performances need to be exceptionally sharp when the storyline is particularly vague.  Tucci is especially strong (and slimy), but Graham (Burns’ love interest during filming) doesn’t get the job done, struggling with material that’s far beyond her limited range.  Murphy shows glimmers of her as yet untapped mega-talent.  Burns is the eternal dreamboat, which helps when the plot is flagging.  I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, hoping for a more interesting next time.