2 Days in New York
Directed by Julie Delpy
It’s been five years since Julie Delpy's 2 Days in Paris, which still holds a place on the short list of worthwhile date movies in recent memory—the kind that studios seem unable to make. It was charmingly neurotic, like a foreign, Woody Allen-inspired riff on Meet the Parents. Ironically, most of that fun is lost in translation in 2 Days in New York.
Delpy returns to write, direct and star as Marion, a couple of years removed from her relationship with Jack (Adam Goldberg, conspicuously and unfortunately absent in the new film) and sharing custody of their son in New York. She's now living with a new boyfriend, Mingus, a public radio host underplayed by an unusually subdued Chris Rock. Mingus plays foil to Marion’s eccentric father, sister, and ex-boyfriend, all of whom reciprocate the previous film’s Paris visit, this time in Marion’s Manhattan apartment. The guests seem like caricatures, as from a Lonely Planet Guide to Cultural Stereotypes: they misread every social cue, their behavior suggesting a hybrid of Asperger’s and total cultural ignorance. Their zany antics become combustible when mixed with Marion’s neuroses—a cocktail that had amusing results in the first film, but whose effect rapidly wears thin here. Marion’s relationship with Mingus is put to the test with her family’s intrusive visit, but there’s never any serious threat transmitted to the audience beyond our middling concern for Chris Rock's ability to sleep comfortably on the couch.
Delpy is as radiant today as she was when American audiences were introduced to her in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s magnetic White and Richard Linklater’s whimsical Before Sunrise. Her filmmaking, however, lacks the same composure. (At least we are spared any Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner moments, given the interracial relationship.) The biggest disappointment in the film is Rock, who seems confined by the screenplay, only hinting at the potential of a funnier film during a couple of soliloquies that he delivers to a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama. Delpy’s writing tries too hard, with overeager dialogue and awkwardly unfunny set pieces, even if her lighthearted approach makes it difficult to actively dislike the film. But just like its house guests, 2 Days in New York quickly outstays its welcome.
Opens August 10