Published Nov 01, 2001Sidewalks of New York is just begging for Woody Allen comparisons. It's an ensemble romantic comedy set in New York City about a string of self-obsessed, neurotic people vaguely connected to one another who are embroiled in a series of complicated relationships. Allen's films (the good ones, anyway) are often buoyed by their persistent self-awareness that won't allow the characters to take themselves too seriously for too long, and that is something that this film could definitely use more of. It is often quite entertaining, but its quest to glean a deeper meaning from the characters' romantic exploits (is love really possible in this crazy modern world?) feel a little tired and shallow. The main characters, though played nicely by a group of very engaging actors that includes Stanley Tucci, Brittany Murphy, Heather Graham, David Krumholtz, Rosario Dawson, and Edward Burns himself, all have the self-involvement of people who spend their entire waking lives contemplating the state of their relationships, and this can get grating sometimes. The supporting cast generally has better material to work with, as they get to sit back offer their perspectives on their friends' messed up lives. Dennis Farina has a particularly great turn as an aging lothario eager to provide Burns's character with lessons in how to collect sexual conquests. Though the subject matter may seem inconsequential at times, the film is put together with enough wit and style to make it fun along the way. The direction combines pseudo-documentary interviews that have the characters speaking directly to the camera about their relationship histories with a cleverly shot and edited narrative that closely follows the subjects around their lives to give the film a nice, intimate feel. The script is laced with a subtle humour and the characters ultimately come across as appealing in spite of their flaws. For well-trodden fluffy fare, Sidewalks of New York definitely has its moments.