Movie review: '2 Days in New York' not worth the trip
As much as I love America, I can honestly say that “2 Days in New York” can’t begin to compare with “2 Days in Paris.”
Think about it: Trump Tower, Eiffel Tower; the Hudson, the Seine; the Met, the Louvre; Hogs & Heifers, Moulin Rouge; Chris Rock, Adam Goldberg – huh? They’d be Julie Delpy’s love interests in these transatlantic endeavors: Rock in the Big Apple and Goldberg in the City of Light; and their presence, or absence, thoroughly defines each tale.
With Goldberg, Delpy had sparks; with Rock, she has zilch. Not a good thing when you’re striving for romantic comedy, as Delpy so clearly is in her latest effort as writer-director-star-composer. That’s a lot of hats, and perhaps she was so busy attempting to juggle them all that she failed to notice that her standup co-star was falling down as a romantic lead. Worse, she’s asked Rock to play straight man in a cultural clash in which Franco meets American with disastrous, and allegedly humorous, results.
Set five years after “2 Days in Paris” left off, “2 Days in New York” finds Delpy’s photo-artist Marion older and wiser, but still a bit of an insecure ditz. Goldberg’s Jack has flown the coop, but left Marion with a toddler as a parting gift. Enter Rock as Mingus, a divorced NPR deejay with a kid of his own.
In pure “Brady Bunch” style, they decide to form a family, but do so before Mingus has had a chance to meet Marion’s obstreperous Parisian kin. And as Marion’s uncouth father, Jeannot (Delpy’s real-life dad, Albert Delpy), sexually uninhibited sister, Rose (Alexia Landeau), and Rose’s stoner boyfriend, Manu (Alexandre Nahon), descend upon Manhattan for an eventful 48-hour holiday, the bond between Marion and Mingus is about to be severely tested.
It’s an interesting premise conceived and written by Delpy and Landeau, especially the resulting mash up of cultures and fractured families. But the movie never does enough with it, relying more on cheap gags and obvious one-liners than deep, cerebral humor. Worse, it’s an idea that rapidly deflates under the weight of Delpy and Rock’s utter lack of chemistry. They seem more like strangers than lovers, a problem compounded by the flaccidness of Rock, who, when denied his full comedic powers, comes off as a bland old fuddy-duddy. The only time he flirts with being funny is whenever Mingus vents aloud to a life-sized cardboard cutout of his hero, Barrack Obama.
Luckily, the rest of the cast is around to pick up much of the slack, with the elder Delpy repeating his rampant scene stealing from “2 Days in Paris.” He again excels at generating unintentional mischief, whether it be trying to sneak contraband through customs or getting tossed in jail along with Manu, who’s determined to score an ounce of New York’s primo pot.
The younger Delpy is strong, too, although she mostly limits herself to reacting to her family’s appalling behavior. Delpy the filmmaker does afford Delpy the actress a couple of moments to shine, one in which Marion verbally dresses down a snooty critic at her latest gallery opening, and later on when she engages in a surreal sit-down with notorious weird-guy actor Vincent Gallo, playing himself and hilariously parodying his self-important image.
Great stuff. But that’s the problem with the movie. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud scenes, but few hold together well enough to make for a smooth-flowing narrative equal to “2 Days in Paris.” Where that movie was funny and charming, this one is merely rambling and discombobulated, adding to the popular belief that what happened in Paris should have stayed in Paris.
2 DAYS IN NEW YORK (R for language, sexual content, some drug use and brief nudity.) Cast includes Julie Delpy, Chris Rock and Albert Delpy. Co-written and directed by Julie Delpy. At Kendall Square, Cambridge. 2.5 stars out of 4.