Starring Julie Delpy, Chris Rock. Written by Julie Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon. Directed by Delpy. 14A. 96 min. Opens Aug. 10.
Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in New York is not a film lacking in novelty: It’s the only place to see scenes of Chris Rock holding a one-way conversation with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Barack Obama, or Vincent Gallo getting pooped on by a pigeon. Which is not to say that it’s fun to watch. The movie is a sister film to Delpy’s 2007 effort, 2 Days in Paris, which introduced the writer-director star’s screechy alter ego Marion—a one-stop shop of neurotic tics whose literal and figurative flailing is allegedly the stuff of high comedy.
The sequel picks up five years after the original, with Marion having swapped partners. She’s traded in Adam Goldberg’s embittered Jack—who barely survived their titular Gallic sojourn with his dignity intact—for Mingus (Chris Rock), an N.Y.C. radio-show host with a gentle demeanour who seems content to tread water in Marion’s splashy wake. The twist is that instead of taking Mingus to France, she forces him to play host to her obnoxious family (her father is played by her real-life pops, Albert Delpy), with the ensuing close-quarters farce testing the strength of their relationship and the audience’s patience for broad cross-cultural commentary, contrived narrative misunderstandings, and poisson-out-of-water jokes.
The plot pivots on Marion’s decision to “sell her soul” as part of an artistic exhibition, a seriously overwrought metaphor that was done better on The Simpsons. Delpy may think she’s baring her own heart and soul by making a film tinged with autobiographical elements where she plays a hot mess, but the jokes are never as funny (or as uncomfortable) as she seems to think they are. The only person who escapes unscathed is Gallo (bird poop notwithstanding), who is very amusing inhabiting a (slightly) exaggerated version of himself.