2 DAYS IN NEW YORK
2 and 1/2 stars out of 4
A bookend/sequel of sorts to her "2 Days in Paris," "2 Days in New York" is another take on the perpetual culture clash of continents from writer/director/leading lady Julie Delpy. All but screaming "I am the younger, female, non-Jewish version of Woody Allen," Delpy -- like Allen himself over the span of his entire career -- is on the mark slightly more than half of time, which is much better than the other way around.
The fact that Delpy gets New York, New Yorkers, France and the French is a big plus here -- and actually provides her some welcomed saving grace. If Allen can make fun of Jewish culture, she can do the same with the French without being labeled a prejudiced bigot. Throughout the film -- probably more intentional than not -- Delpy mirthfully plays into and exaggerates preconceived, often truthful perceptions of the French which are simultaneously rib-tickling and vengeful.
Delpy stars as Marion, a Manhattan wife and mother married to radio talk show host Mingus (Chris Rock). Mingus is ultra liberal (he met Marion when both were writing for the Village Voice) and is completely on board with the impending visit of her father Jeannot (Delpy's real-life father Albert Delpy), her kooky sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and Rose's flighty companion Manu (Alexandre Nahon), a clueless, back-slapper type who has slept with both sisters.
From the second Marion's brood arrives, clear trouble is on the immediate horizon. Jeannot is held-up in customs for hiding sausages and cheese that are taped to his body. He also hasn't bathed in a couple days and has no intention of doing so any time soon. Rose is an exhibitionist who parades around in the buff and Manu is looking to score some high-grade American weed.
Patient as a saint, Mingus lets all of the blunt comments, glaringly awkward situations and foul odors roll off of his back but when a chance meeting with a former co-worker -- currently close to the Obama administration -- goes embarrassingly afoul because of Marion and her family's infighting -- he understandably snaps.
If Delpy had set the story in L.A. -- or any other city in the world other than New York -- it might not have played out as so Allen-esque. Allen himself might imaginarily quip: "no one can mimic me, not even me." Delpy's movie is too blatant a copy-cat to be taken seriously yet it does manage to squeeze out a few insightful morsels regarding family, marriage, aging and what might happen to the works of an artist if said artist suddenly and unexpectedly died.
The pace is break-neck throughout which goes far in distracting the audience away from the many forced contrivances of the plot. Even though it often gets silly far too often, "2 Days" is never boring and always keeps our attention.
Delpy saves the movie greatly and rewards the audiences richly with the last five minutes of the film that tightly ties so many initially unconnected plot threads together in an ingenious and poetic manner. It almost makes up for the long stretches of time in the flabby mid-section where the narrative just treads water.
Unless she drums up a screenplay of unprecedented magnitude and depth and directs it with some individual flair, Delpy will never elevate herself beyond mockingbird status or a former ingenue no longer fit for ingenue roles that wants to but can't ever quite become a significant and distinctive filmmaker in her own right.
Presented in mostly English and occasional French with English subtitles. (Magnolia)