2 Days in New York (2012)
Director: Julie Delpy
Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy
Synopsis: Manhattan couple Marion and Mingus, who each have children from prior relationships, find their comfortable family dynamic jostled by a visit from Marion’s relatives.
Families, eh? What is it they say? That it’s easier to love them from a distance? Something like that — anyway, that’s the point Julie Delpy makes in 2 Days in New York, a sequel to her 2007 movie 2 Days in Paris. In that movie, Delpy’s thirty-something Marion returned to her native Paris with the twin intentions of rekindling her relationship with boyfriend Jack, and to visit her eccentric family. Well, the first part of that plan clearly didn’t work out because five years later she’s living with radio talk show host Mingus (Chris Rock) and her young son. As the movie opens, everything is cool, but they are preparing for the arrival of Marion’s father and sister, so it’s only a matter of time before their idyllic relationship inevitably comes under strain.
Things go wrong before her family even make it out of the airport, with her dotty old father (played by Delpy’s real-life father Albert Delpy) apprehended by customs officials for attempting to smuggle a vast amount of sausages and cheese into the country. This is only the start of a succession of incidents which test Marion and Mingus’s relationship to the limit at a time when Marion needs a little stability more than ever as a show of her art work is about to open at a local gallery. Marion’s sister, Rose (co-writer Alexia Landau) is a flirtatious exhibitionist who thinks nothing of wandering naked around the small apartment, but even worse than that, she’s brought her current beau Manu (Alex Nahon) along for the ride. Not only is Manu an old flame of Marion’s, he’s also something of an insensitive slob who trims his toenails at the breakfast table and thinks nothing of paying for grass in front of Mingus’s young daughter. With all these visitors speaking French to one another, it’s not long before Mingus starts feeling like an outcast in his own home.
2 Days in New York is a pleasant enough comedy, but it does little to distinguish itself from anything else out there. The humour is wry at times and, despite the title, succeeds in avoiding comparison with Woody Allen comedies simply by preventing any of its characters from being too neurotic. Marion is probably the nearest you’d get to a character from an Allen movie, but for the most part she remains recognisable as a real person in a way that Allen’s characters hardly ever do. That’s not to say this is better than a typical Woody Allen movie, because it’s definitely not. Delpy and Landau have Marion becoming more of a domestic sit-com character as the film progresses — her false claims to a complaining neighbour of being terminally ill with a brain tumour, and over-the-top reaction to a sniffy art critic’s observations about her work are particularly disappointing in a movie that appears to be combining sophisticated observation with wry wit. And a sub-plot revolving around the selling of her soul to Vincent Gallo does nothing to prevent her character from slowly tipping over into parody.
Delpy is appealing in the role, however, and those playing the members of her family do a near-perfect job of slowly becoming less and less appealing as the movie — and their visit — goes on. Chris Rock is also far more appealing when he plays it low-key as he does here than when he’s going at it like a hyperactive caffeine addict. Overall, 2 Days in New York is a pleasant, undemanding piece of work, but it won’t stay much longer than that in your memory.