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Imagine there’s an alternate Manhattan where Woody Allen is younger, taller, and Irish-Catholic—but no funnier. No need to imagine, actually: Edward Burns has moved across the East River, leaving the extended-family themes of movies such as The Brothers McMullen in the outer boroughs. Sidewalks of New York is typical of the writer-director-star’s smarmy, self-impressed romantic comedies, but it forsakes fathers, brothers, and in-laws for a loose skein of erotic questers. Tommy (Burns) is a self-professed “real New Yorker” with working-class roots but a hefty TV-producer salary; newly ejected by his girlfriend, he gets interested in schoolteacher Maria (Rosario Dawson). When Maria asks to take it slow, Tommy turns his attention to real estate agent Annie (Heather Graham, Burns’ paramour at the time the film was shot). Annie is married, but her oily husband, Griffin (Stanley Tucci), is cheating with ditzy 19-year-old NYU student Ashley (the ever-entertaining Brittany Murphy). Ashley can’t really explain why she meets Griffin for hotel-room trysts, which becomes a regular topic of conversation with new suitor Ben (David Krumholtz), who just happens to be Maria’s needy ex-husband. Burns may suppose he’s being bold because there’s much sex talk and because the final hookups leave some characters unattached. The film opens, mock-doc style, with people on the street discussing how they lost their virginity, and includes penis-size put-downs and a character (Dennis Farina, playing Tommy’s boss) who claims to have had 500 women. But it’s funny how much of this rebounds to Tommy’s favor: Maria gossips excitedly that Tommy went down on her on the first date, and the real reason that one of the principal female characters ends up alone is so Tommy can have only one permanent partner. Maybe next time Burns will go all the way and cast himself as a salt-of-the-earth prince of the city who acquires an entire harem. —Mark Jenkins