Review: 2 Days in New York
PLOT: Marion (Julie Delpy) is a French artist living in New York, with her boyfriend, Mingus (Chris Rock). On the eve of her first major art show, Marion brings her father (Albert Delpy) and slutty sister (Alexia Landeau) to Manhattan to spend spend a few days with Mingus, and their blended family, including her son, and his daughter. A massive clash of cultures ensues between the responsible Mingus and Marion's wild, bohemian family- that throws their relationship into turmoil.
REVIEW: 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK is a sequel to Julie Delpy's earlier film, 2 DAYS IN PARIS, but if you haven't seen it- no worries. I haven't either, and it didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying this culture clash comedy, which aims for highbrow laughs, and delivers in spades. Obviously, this is a passion project for Delpy, who also directed and co-wrote the film with co-stars Landeau and Alex Nahon (who plays her sister's unwittingly racist boyfriend- Manu). Delpy's own father, Albert plays the same role here, and just like in the film, Delpy's mother recently passed away- so her coming to terms with the loss of a beloved parent feels doubly authentic.
Like the early films of Woody Allen (could the NYC setting be a coincidence?) this is a comedy of neurosis, with Delpy's flaky character owing a lot to the parts played by the Woodman back in his prime. Newly forty, Delpy's character agonizes over whether or not she's finally in a stable relationship with the relatively straight-laced Mingus- who, for his part, almost loses his sanity thanks to the antics of her family, who remain blissfully unaware of the chaos they're causing.
Delpy's always been a fine actress (her work in BEFORE SUNRISE/SUNSET is damn near transcendent)- and she displays a gift for this kind of comedy, which- although somewhat more sophisticated than the average Hollywood rom-com (meaning it doesn't feel phony), isn't too highbrow for it's own good.
The funniest parts of the film come from Rock's interactions with Delpy's family. Rock hasn't been served all that well in films, but cut loose in an edgy (R-rated) indie-comedy, he gets to really show what he's made of. Delpy even gives him a few mini-monologues, in the style of his stand-up, where he complains about Martine and her family to a life-size Obama cut-out that sits in his office. He's especially funny in the way he goes out of his way to try and not be offended at some of Manu's casual stereotyping, where he immediately, after meeting Mingus, asks him where to score weed, tells him his sister looks like Beyonce (but sexier), and congratulates him on Obama being elected president. Nahon's especially funny when, after meeting an Indian friend of Rock's who happens to work in the Obama administration, proudly, and obliviously assumes the friend is Kal Penn (he's NOT) excitedly tells him how much he loved HAROLD & KUMAR (Penn famously gave up acting for a year to work for Obama). Funny shit.
But- it's Delpy's own father, Albert, who all but walks away with the film. A rotund, jolly old-guy, who looks like a French Santa Clause- he seemingly delights in playing the stereotypical Frenchman- being detained at the airport for smuggling in sausages and cheese, constantly guzzling red wine, and kissing Mingus (who he lovingly calls Miiiiiinguuus) on the cheeks. My only issue here is that I had a hard time believing that Rock's character could get so easily exasperated by him, as he's such a likable old guy.
All in all, I really enjoyed 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK, and anyone who wants a smart adult comedy would be well advised to check it out. Certainly, it proves that's Delpy's got just as much talent behind the camera, as in front of it, and she demonstrates an impressively light touch throughout. Even a later plot point, which sees her- as part of her exhibit, literally sell a contract for her soul to a mystery buyer (who- if you recognize when he shows up later gives you massive indie cred)- which could have been a little too precious, works perfectly. 2 DAYS IN PARIS is a really solid, accessible indie sleeper- and hopefully people will give it a chance.
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