Give Edward Burns at least a little credit for perseverance, because just about any other writer-director-actor who released a movie every couple of years to critical shrugs and audience indifference would've long since hung up his megaphone. But propelled by his over-praised 1995 indie hit The Brothers McMullen, Burns has continued to cram one-dimensional characters into thinly plotted comedy-dramas, hoping to re-impress moviegoers with his aloof leading-man charm and faux-natural, trying-too-hard-to-be-funny dialogue.
While Burns' most recent film, The Groomsmen, inches from multiplex to multiplex, another Burns effort from 2004 is also making the rounds. Looking For Kitty offers Burns as a down-on-his-luck New York detective who agrees to help high-school baseball coach David Krumholtz find his wife, who left him for a British rock star. Krumholtz wants to see her one last time and hear her say goodbye in person, so Burns and Krumholtz sad-sack it around the city, tailing the rock star (played by Max Baker) and sharing some not-all-that-profound thoughts on love and loneliness.
Most of the comedy in Looking For Kitty is intended to bubble up from the bit players. It's supposed to be funny that Baker ends up being kind of a geek who says things like "comics are a window into the human soul," and it's supposed to be funny that Krumholtz gets hit on by a tourist (played by Saturday Night Live's Rachel Dratch) who urges him to see a great Broadway show, like The Lion King or Movin' Out. On the flipside, it's supposed to be poignant that the optimistic Krumholtz and the pessimistic Burns have so much in common—and it almost would be poignant, if not for the stagy conversations and wan indie soundtrack.
The real stars of Looking For Kitty are the New York streets and buildings, which Burns points out to Krumholtz by way of showing how the old city survives people's attempts to modernize. Looking For Kitty might've worked as metaphorical travelogue, about what changes and what endures, in life and in location. Unfortunately, the tour guides aren't good company. They're the kind of people who show up in Edward Burns movies.