PARIS, JE T'AIME was such a successful anthology film that it's not surprising to see spiritual sequels dutifully popping up—Shanghai, I Love You is already slated for a 2011 release—but it is disheartening to see the drop in quality between Paris Je T'Aime and New York, I Love You. Instead of directors like Alfonso Cuarón, Gus Van Sant, and the Coen brothers, we get a segment by Brett Ratner. Instead of a true omnibus spirit—Paris flipped through various genres and featured social commentary—we get a surprisingly Caucasian-heavy cast (although there's still an Asian actress, the delightful Maggie Q, kicking around to play a high-class hooker) and a litany of brief, cinematic meet-cutes that turn the center of the film into a doughy mass.
Setting aside the weird glee of recognition intrinsic to any cinematic anthology—this is surely the only time in the history of the world that Shia LaBeouf will get the chance to play a gimp-legged, Russian immigrant bellhop, and you can hear him salivating over ewery... sinkle... word—there are very few exciting ideas in New York. Did you know that New York is the Greatest City in the World? That different cultures are Learning Important Lessons about each other every single day? That Strangers Can Be Rude but deep down We All Want to Be Loved? Did you realize that Crippled Hot Girls Can Fuck Like Monkeys? (Thanks for that last one, Brett Ratner!)
It's probably wrong to expect too much of New York; it would make a better movie for a first date than the latest Sandra Bullock crime against humanity, to be sure. And Andy Garcia and James Caan have a lot of fun with the screen time they get. But as a love letter to the Big Apple, it's a failure. Virtually any Woody Allen movie understands the nuances of New York better than this film.