Sundance Review: '2 Days In New York' A Funny & Welcome Sequel Worthy Of Its Predecessor

Reviews
by John Lichman
January 25, 2012 2:18 PM
2 Comments
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Taking place a few years after “Two Days in Paris,”  with the events from that film summed up in a puppet show, Jack (played Adam Goldberg) is gone and Marion (Delpy) lives in New York with her boyfriend Mingus (Chris Rock) and their respective children from previous relationships. Both lead artistic New York lives as Marion is about to open a photo exhibit and Mingus is writing for the Village Voice along with hosting two radio shows. Marion's father Jeannot (Albert Delpy) and sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) are coming to New York to spend time as a family following the death of Marion's mother. The promise of foreign customs and crazy old men is fulfilled the second we meet Dad, locked in customs and removing the sausages he strapped to his chest.

The weekend turns for the telegraphed terrible when Rose's new boyfriend (Alexandre Nahon), who happens to be one of Marion's infamous exes, tries to impress Mingus with his appreciation of African-American culture by sporting a Barack Obama t-shirt, quoting Salt n' Pepa and buying pot in the living room. What comes next is the backbone of every mis-matched family comedy: language barriers, inside jokes, stifled libido, ass cracks, hair pulling, accidental nudity, misinterpretation, urination and nightmares. How will Marion deal with Mingus' growing dislike and annoyance of her own family when they may have a new addition to theirs? What will happen at the gallery showing, where in a last-ditch attempt to gain press, she's selling her soul for $10,000? Delpy isn't that low-brow, except when she wants to be (Mingus rhymes with...) but the tension building in the house is best illustrated by a dream sequence where Mingus is surrounded Marion's family, clad in gowns and wigs, devouring their food until settling on him as the next course. Rock's reactions are about what can be expected from him—loud, exaggerated and perfect for the moment.

Every exchange is played out to subtle comic ends. Mingus is prickly when asked about Obama, yet later we discover his office is littered with magazine ads, photos of the President and even a cardboard cut-out that he vents to. A little white lie from Marion to shut up her annoying neighbor leads to her eventual art world success. Then there's a celebrity cameo that comes so far out of left field that the moment Delpy takes to explain who it is evokes a response from said cameo to correct her and list his own achievements. A cynic could dismiss all this as happenstance, but not when dealing with a comedian like Chris Rock, whose character keeps a massive “Black Orpheus” poster in his office, or Delpy's ending a stop-motion montage of New York sightseeing with a single yellow balloon floating away. These very calculated references are the backbone that supports “2 Days in New York,” a sequel not just ready to rely on a past formula for success, but one that builds a rich and believable world for these characters to play in.

Not everythign works, and other jokes feel dated. Among them, a sequence involving the family running into Mingus' former colleague, now in the Obama administration. As he promises Mingus access to an upcoming presidential press conference, Rose's tactless boyfriend gives a thumbs up and adds, “Kumar! I love Kumar!” Another involves Rose, a psychosexual children's therapist that loves walking around nude, then questions if Mingus is leering at her. 

But through all of this, Delpy's point is clear: family is important even if they're all batshit crazy, because that's what family is about and if the rights cleared there'd probably be a few seconds of Sly and the Family Stone right about now. There's a semblance of restraint on her part to end on a dance party, rather than with usual wrap up of scenes of conflict resolution and embraces. Still, her magically compressed Manhattan brings up the usual complaints any native has when watching their city on screen: how does she get from Chelsea to the West Village so fast during the Halloween Parade? Why go to Central Park when they're in Chinatown? How do they afford a three bedroom apartment on a photographer and writer's salary?

The sequel for any comedy threatens the viewer with the possibility of reheated jokes and a stale premise, leading to a lesser run through comic terrain that has already been covered. But Delpy's film is fresh, vibrant and most of all, disarmingly funny. Like the very best characters, Marion is someone you'll be glad to revist and "2 Days In New York" with her, is not bad at all. [B]

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2 Comments

  • Richard | January 27, 2012 4:23 AMReply

    I saw the premier of this film on Thursday evening at the Chicago Music Box. To be fair one needs to must ask the question why this film was ever produced. Two days in Paris is certainly a Gem of a Film. Two days in New York is still a Diamond in the Rough. Ms Delpy certainly found her voice in Two days in Paris but sadly it has been lost in this sequel. Chris Rock is brilliant in his role but he seems to be leased in by the script. Ms Delpy is sincere at her attempt at Comedy but her attempt to use Woody Allen like dialogue falls flat most of the film. The audience laughs at her and the actions of her French Family but there is a real disconnect between her Father, Sister and her Sister's Boyfriend. The scene in the restaurant where she has a verbal and then a physical fight with her sister does little to move the story and reminds one of a Three Stooges Film, than a Modern Comedy. There is very little connection between Ms Delpy and her current boyfriend Christ Rock. One begins to wonder if her Father, Sister were ever happy as a Family. The personal parts of the story, the Death of her Mom, the selling of her Soul and her views on religion are never well developed. If she would like to take a clue from Woody Allen then she needs to review his finest works i.e. Take The Money and Run, Annie Hall and Manhattan. All of his films portray a sense of a genuine character. Ms Delpy character may be genuine but it lacks direction and propose. One feels very little empathy for her character. Her actions review little about who she really is and how she really feels about things. The Selling of her soul to the highest bidder is interesting and could have had more impact on the story if it had been better weaved into the film. The ending of the film which reveals that all of her crazy behavior is due to the fact that she is expecting falls flat. Perhaps instead of watching Woody Allen Films she might have been better off to have watched the Classic "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" Directed by Pedro Almordovar.

  • leva | January 25, 2012 4:00 PMReply

    ''But Delpy's film is fresh, vibrant and most of all, disarmingly funny.'' GREAT ! i cannot wait to see it, enjoyed the first film so much.

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