Review: '2 Days in New York', starring Julie Delpy and Chris Rock
It's not totally necessary to have seen Julie Delpy's 2007 neuro-comedy, 2 Days in Paris, to understand what's going on in the sorta sequel, 2 Days in New York, but having seen it will give an appreciation just how much Delpy has improved in just about every facet. Once again she stars as Marion, the flaky and hurried artist who has moved with her son from Paris to New York, only she's not dragging along the boy's father, Jack(Adam Goldberg), and the story of their separation is told cleverly as a bedtime story full of puppets. She seems to have found something more real with the oddly named Mingus(Chris Rock), a radio show host with his own child. Their relationship is comfortable, or as comfortable as it could be with Marion's personality often clashing with the more reserved Mingus, but they haven't really passed the biggest of hurdle of any relationship: meeting the in-laws.
In this case it's Mingus meeting Marion's family, who fly in from France for a couple of days of pure, culture clash chaos. On the eve of her biggest art show yet, Marion sees her relationship with Mingus put to the test as their lives are steamrolled by her happy old man, Jeannot(played by Delpy's real father, Albert), her promiscuous sister, Rose(Aleksia Landeau), and Marion's racist ex-boyfriend, Manu(Alexandre Nahon). Why's Manu there? Because he's sleeping with Rose, with neither seeming to realize or care that it's going to drive Marion even more bonkers than normal. Or maybe it's just that carefree, live and let live French attitude that's driving her crazy? Marion's not the same person she was before she made the move to New York. The city has worn her down a little bit. She's still just as smart and insecure as ever, but the actions of her family prove to be more embarrassing than endearing.
For Mingus it's a total nightmare. Marion's family unwittingly insults him at every turn, with most of it just being one big misunderstanding borne of vast cultural differences. Manu apparently thinks all black people dig hip-hop, smoke weed, and are friends with Barack Obama, while Rose walks around the house naked and makes fun of Mingus' name. Hey, it does rhyme with a certain oral sexual act. When drug dealers are walking around the house and his professional colleagues start being mistaken for Kal Penn, Mingus has had quite enough.
Clearly, these movies are something of a passion project for Delpy, but they aren't the light and airy films one might think. As the writer, director, and star, Delpy has added a deeply personal touch by bringing back her father and including the reality of her mother's real life passing. Albert Delpy has considerably more to do this time around, and his jovial spirit and mischievous nature give the film a bountiful energy. A bit of sadness in him is noticeable just around the edges, hiding it under the obvious pride and love he has for his two daughters.
Rock and Delpy may seem like an odd couple and....well, it's because they are. That's one of the driving forces of the story, and it's refreshing to see a film that isn't scared to highlight just how different Mingus and Marion are, while also showing all the other things that make them so compatible. Chris Rock has had a tough go of it as an actor, but he's great here essentially playing the straight man while everyone else gets all the punchlines. Marion is a potentially irritating character in the hands of anyone other than Delpy.
Who knows what will happen with Marion and Mingus in the future, but 2 Days in New York is such a smart and funny mature comedy that it'd be nice to pay them another visit.