Back in my restaurant/bar industry days, there was a film that everyone needed to see, if not own. The movie Waiting wasn’t a smash hit, even though it starred Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris and Justin Long, but everrrryone in the industry knew it by heart. That film spoke to anyone who has ever worked in a bar or restaurant. It reflected their own lives back to them, that someone else understood them, and brought a sense of belonging to a larger community.
Now I’m a dad, I’ve lived the stay-at-home parenting life, and Sidewalk Traffic evoked the same feelings in me that Waiting did back when I was a server/bartender, except more so. Somebody else gets it. Somebody else has lived these experiences. See if you see yourself in this plot summary for Sidewalk Traffic from IMDB:
“When Declan, a 30-year-old husband and new father, is squeezed out of a promotion, he finds himself wracked by internal crises including career envy, bitterness over bad breaks and the still-lingering fallout from the suicide of his former creative partner.
Searching for salvation, Declan surrenders to the role of stay-at-home dad, and is forced to face his demons while pushing strollers, changing diapers and heating up bottles all the while working to resurrect his dreams.”
For today’s active and involved dads, Sidewalk Traffic is the film you’ve been waiting for. It deals with the themes we all struggle with. Can I still attain my career dreams? Am I doing the right thing by my kid? Do others see me as less of a man? And, ultimately, the realization that being a dad makes for a rewarding and affirming life.
Sidewalk Traffic also a NYC film
Over and over, as Declan wrestles with his dilemmas, trying to save his dreams while meeting his responsibilities, I could see myself in him. Putting your child ahead of yourself is not something that’s always easy to do, especially when you’ve made some bad mistakes in the past. Dealing with these feelings is a difficult subject, and you’re hard pressed to be seen in a sympathetic light while doing so. I could relate.
It also didn’t hurt that the movie was filmed here in New York. The story truly hit me where I live.
Writer/director Anthony L. Fisher, who won the Audience Award at the Lower East Side Film Festival for Sidewalk Traffic, spins a genuine New York story here. This might be a movie, but there’s not lots about it that’s “Hollywood.” Instead, we get a tale about people we could know, people we could be. People that we are.
The cast is disarming, believable and natural. Johnny Hopkins as Declan puts in a star-making turn, and he is at times charming, funny, desperate, hopeful and, ultimately, real. Fathers will identify with him, especially stay-at-home dads, even more so New York stay-at-home dads.
The talented cast is filled out with Erin Darke, Samm Levine and Heather Matarazzo, who I’ve been a fan of since Todd Solondz’ Welcome to the Dollhouse. And OMG, suddenly MTV Classic’s Kurt Loder shows up!
To be clear, this film is not intended just for Dads, either. It’s IMDB rating is on par with many other well known and classic movies, so it certainly has broad appeal. You don’t need to live in New York to understand the pressures of everyday life presented here. You don’t need to be a Dad, or even a parent to buy into the story. You only need watch the movie, and let it tell you its tale. But speaking as a dad and as a New Yorker, it’s hard to get past the feeling that Sidewalk Traffic was made just for me.