Five years ago, Julie Delpy wrote, directed and starred in the amiably shaggy romantic comedy 2 Days in Paris, in which she and Adam Goldberg’s young lovers went to France for a visit.
Although the movie gods were not exactly crying out for a sequel, superfluousness is one of the virtues of the new follow-up, 2 Days in New York, a giddy and largely consequence-free romp that sends a group of out-of-place Frenchmen and woman into the maelstrom of Manhattan.
Delpy’s harried artist Marion is now raising the child she had with her ex-boyfriend (Goldberg’s Paris character) while living with her new love Mingus (Chris Rock). Although she is prepping a gallery show in which she plans to auction off her soul (no, really), there’s not much at risk in the film’s frothy farce.
The chaos that erupts when Delpy’s father and sister, along with the latter’s boyfriend, cram into the couple’s two-bedroom apartment is bound to blow over. Like any family visit, it needs to be only weathered.
As a bespectacled Village Voice reporter, Rock’s Mingus uncharacteristically serves as the straight man to a cavalcade of Gallic goofballs, who’ve flown over to watch Marion unveil her photographs of former lovers (and to witness the sale of her soul, of course).
Dad Jeannot (Delpy’s real-life father, Albert Delpy), tries to sneak past Homeland Security with several pounds of sausage strapped to his gut; sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) seems to find undergarments optional, wearing only a loose-fitting tank top to Marion’s yoga class.
Manu (Alex Nahon), Rose’s current and Marion’s former boyfriend, is obsessed with Mingus’ blackness and deaf to the implications of randomly raising the subject of Salt-N-Pepa or asking, “Are you happy Obama is president?”
As subjects go, Franco-American culture clash is hardly virgin territoire, and to her credit, Delpy, who shares script credit with Landau and Nahon, doesn’t pretend otherwise. It’s no accident she opens 2 Days with a puppet-show prologue, since the figures who invade Marion and Mingus’ home do so with a lack of delicatesse not seen since Punch and Judy.
Nahon in particular does yeoman’s work maintaining Manu’s epic lack of self-awareness, which is less suggestive of differences in culture than it is a lack of blood to the brain.
Amid this mad bustle, simply holding onto herself is as much as Marion can handle, and sometimes more. Given its worn and battered state, it’s not surprising that her soul finally fetches a fairly modest sum, although the identity of its anonymous buyer turns out to be an unexpected delight.
But if Marion’s soul is up for grabs, Delpy has a firm grip on hers. 2 Days in Paris is as self-assured as it is slight, a deliberate diversion whose winsome charms never run dry.
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