Americans who still don't trust the French (you know, like those pro-war folk who lobbied that French fries be renamed "freedom fries") may feel 2 Days in New York basically verifies what they've always wondered about them: that they're morally ambiguous, shit-starting nutjobs. The fact that the person who co-wrote and directed this film is French actress Julie Delpy will certainly make them think that everything in this farce seems all the more authentic.
A friskier, wackier sequel to her 2007 filmmaking effort 2 Days in Paris, which had her and Adam Goldberg as lovebirds trying not to wring each other's necks in her hometown, Delpy returns as high-strung photographer Marion. Now settled in the Big Apple with black journalist/ radio host Mingus (Chris Rock) and their respective kids from other relationships, wildly inappropriate hilarity ensues when her eccentric, recently widowed father (Albert Delpy, Julie's real-life father) and her combative, passive-aggressive sister Rose (co-writer Alexia Landeau) come to town to visit. Also tagging along with them is Manu (Alexandre Nahon), Marion's boneheaded ex and Rose's new friend-with-benefits.
As much as it would be fun to believe that Delpy is exposing and spoofing the French's most nutty, most stereotypical tendencies, she brandishes her chops not only as a comedic filmmaker but also as a comedic screen presence. One almost wonders if she's making these movies as a way of inching closer to working with Woody Allen. After all, Delpy's Marion is the sort of creative, neurotic, slightly unhinged muse that Diane Keaton turned into a career. (Then again, Delpy has her own camera.)
All the adorable yet ridiculous theatrics Delpy unleashes might have been too silly to take if it weren't for Rock. Even though he has some funny scenes of his own (including a couple of great heart-to-hearts with a cardboard cutout of President Obama), Rock effectively serves as both straight man and audience surrogate. In every single reaction and take Rock does, you sympathize with the man.
It's quite amazing that both Delpy and Rock pull this off, convincingly playing a couple who, despite being polar opposites, are straight-up smitten with each other. A date movie even Francophobes would enjoy, 2 Days in New York is crazy, but it's crazy from the heart.
This article appeared in print with the headline "A great escape."