“2 Days in New York” is a charming little comedy which made me cringe and laugh through its broad humor and sharp wit. I winced along with its more sensible characters as the things kept getting messy and they were running out of patience, but I also chuckled at its funny scenes mainly involved with culture clash and personality clash. Their eccentric guests are certainly the last ones I want to invite to my family apartment, but they are funny although they are quite annoying at times, and somehow I came to like them in the end – to some degrees, though.
The movie is a sequel to the director/producer/actress/co-writer/composer Julie Delpy’s 2007 comedy film “2 Days in Paris”(2007). After suffering so many ghastly French stereotypes including Marion’s family and ex-boyfriends during his horrible 2 days in Paris, Marion’s boyfriend Jack, who was played by Adam Goldberg in that film, somehow saved their relationship and then returned to New York with her. They married not long after that terrible experience and had a son between them, and, according to the prologue scene narrated by Marion(Julie Delpy), they happily lived together in New York for a while.
However, they eventually separated, and Marion and her son are currently living at the Manhattan apartment belonging to her current boyfriend Mingus(Chris Rock), a journalist who met her at the Village Voice around the time when she was becoming estranged from Jack. While Mingus is running three radio programs, Marion is preparing the upcoming exhibition for her photography works consisting of the bedroom photographs of her and her many boyfriends in the past, and she has been more nervous and sensitive than usual(it is revealed later that there is another reason for her tumultuous behaviors besides her neurotic personality, by the way).
Nevertheless, they have maintained a cozy household in Mingus’ small and rather shabby apartment(unless you are rich, it is a bit costly to live in New York even with that kind of apartment). Her son and Mingus’ daughter from his previous marriage get along well with each other, and Marion and Mingus are considering moving their relationship to the next step.
But the disaster begins when three supporting characters in the previous film come from France. Marion’s dad Jeannot(Albert Delpy, who is Delpy’s father), who recently lost his dear wife, visits New York to see his adorable grandson, and he is not alone; he is accompanied by Rose(Alexia Landeau, who wrote the screenplay with Delpy), Marion’s child psychiatrist sister, and Rose’s latest boyfriend Manu(Alex Nahon), who is also one of Marion’s many ex-boyfriends and is definitely not the guy Marion wants to see at her apartment at any chance. When you see him wearing T-shirts saying “Obama’s Homeboy”, you can immediately sense how unpleasant and vulgar he can be, and he really is; as soon as he comes into Mingus’ apartment, he deals with a marijuana dealer right in front of the kids with no sign of caution and shame, and then he and Roz casually smoke marijuana later right next to Marion’s fastidious neighbour played by Kate Burton.
While Rose keeps clashing with her sister and creating the embarrassing moments to others through her various partial nudity, Jeannot, a sweet but naughty man child in the appearance of an avuncular Gallic old man, is simply irrepressible to say the least. He is briefly detained at the JFK airport when he tries to smuggle French sausages and cheese, and that is just the start of his continuing innocent annoyance. He is not an unpleasant man at all, and he gets along well with the kids like a good grandpa, but not many grandfather would discuss frankly with his daughters about the size of his grandson’s certain body part while looking upon it together.
In the middle of this dizzy craziness decorated with broad and possibly offensive humor, the movie retains its intelligence, and sometimes it becomes a little bit more insightful as it finds the unexpected moments amid its loony culture clash. While Mingus is frustrated by the language barrier between him and his future father-in-law, he is surprised to find how Jeannot can overcome the barrier with other people in more than one way. There is also a funny moment later in the story when Marion desperately tries to get back her soul sold at her exhibition as a part of the event, and a certain well-known actor rends a nice Faustian tone to the scene although he is not really a devil.
It is not easy to like Marion for many reasons, but Julie Delpy gives a comic performance enjoyable and likable enough for us to forgive Marion’s many flaws. She remains to be a difficult woman to live with, but at least the life is never boring with this flawed but lovely woman. One of the funniest moments is involved with her anxious encounter with an infamous art critic coming to her exhibition, and Delpy delivers a nice payoff for that scene through her hysterical tirade almost approaching to nervous breakdown.
A neurotic comedy film like this always needs a spot of sanity and common sense to hold the ground, Chris Rock ably provides it with his understated portrayal of an ordinary guy being overwhelmed by his girlfriend’s wacky family. Rock’s best moment comes when he privately talks with a life-size cardboard photo of Barack Obama in his private room, and we get a small respite as Mingus introspectively muses on the pros and cons of his relationship with Marion.
Although it resolves its comic circumstance too easily with several contrivances, “2 Days in New York” is a fun farce pulling laughs from its broad caricatures and subsequent hilarious moments of embarrassment. In spite of her sincere closing narration, I do not think Marion learns a lot from another 2 unforgettable days in her life, but people are not changed easily, so maybe we should expect another story from her and her rambunctious family.