The second, but probably not the last, in a series of cinematic odes to major cities that began with "Paris, je t'aime" in 2006, "New York, I Love You" weaves 10 short, trivial vignettes into one long, irritating whole.
The 11 mostly young directors (Randy Balsmeyer created the transitional segments) and various screenwriters obeyed certain rules, like never fading to black. There were, however, no mandates to create interesting characters or avoid self-indulgence. As a result, even experienced filmmakers such as Mira Nair ("The Namesake") turn in what feel like immature efforts.
In nearly every instance, fine actors spout drivel. Robin Wright Penn approaches Chris Cooper outside a bar: "Have you ever made love to a perfect stranger?" Ethan Hawke chases Maggie Q outside a bar: "That was kind of a powerful, intimate situation just now." Shia LaBeouf plays a hunchbacked bellboy with an unplaceable accent who dotes on a depressed opera singer (Julie Christie). Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman are the token adorable older couple.
The movie's hip-factor constantly gets in the way, especially when Orlando Bloom promises Christina Ricci dinner at Balthazar and dessert at Pastis. Only the proudly mainstream director, Brett Ratner, with writer Jeff Nathanson (both of "Rush Hour 2"), turn in something approaching entertainment: the story of a high-school boy (Anton Yelchin, of "Star Trek") whose prom date (Olivia Thirlby) turns out to be wheelchair-bound.
For the most part, each segment ends with a simplistic twist; all that's missing is a trumpet going "wah-wah-wah." It's enough to make you hate New York.