One of the hassles of blogging movie reviews for no money–and I’ll stick to just one for now–is that to be topical, one must watch and review new movies, but new movies are virtually always reviewed by professionals in advance of the theatrical release. I think I might have gotten out my Friends With Kids (2012) before Roger Ebert, but I’m not sure anyone cared. Well, guess what? Amazon is pre-releasing 2 Days in New York (2012)–a sequel to 2 Days in Paris (2007), which is hilarious and you should buy it (even though it looks like a Kate Hudson rom-com it totally isn’t)–to rent for $10 before its August US release. Since that’s the same as a movie ticket, I’m thinking scoop. Except for the 807 people that rated it on IMDB, the people that reviewed it, or the ones who saw it at a film festival or in Europe. I’m starting to feel less proud.
Marion (Julie Delpy) had a child with Jack (played by Adam Goldberg in 2 Days in Paris) and lives with Mingus (Chris Rock) (who has a child from a former marriage). Marion’s family has come to town, including dad (Albert Delpy), sister Rose (Alexia Landeau), and Rose’s boyfriend, and Marion’s ex-boyfriend, Manu (Alexandre Nahon). Dad’s there to see his grandson for the first time. Grandma is no longer with us. Over the two days of their visit, Marion has an exhibit where she’s selling her photographs and her soul. Mingus is a radio host and big-time Obama fan. So it’s Mingus and four French oddities. Meanwhile, the Oak Fairy (Daniel Brühl) is protesting in Central Park–that is all.
One American surrounding by the French worked amazingly well in 2 Days in Paris, so in 2 Days in New York I was forever missing Adam Goldberg. Goldberg is a comic actor of incredible skill. Chris Rock is a stand-up comedian who, after years of film, still can’t control his hand gestures. It’s a detail that will keep him from moving to the next level. Also his line delivery–I think there’s something in the anatomy of his throat that keeps the lines sticky like a bad case of cotton mouth. If I may rewrite Morphius, “Stop trying to act and act.” Chris Rock as the straight man in a wild comedy is an odd phenomenon in the first place and the execution is always almost there. “Almost there” isn’t bad, and I’m not saying he can’t get “there,” but he wasn’t what he needed to be for this movie.
Julie Delpy, who wrote (with Alexia Landeau, who plays Rose) and directed, has a very odd sense of humor. It goes about as crazy as you can get and then a little crazier and French. But she can also write some terrific English dialogue (which I find surprising in a French person) that is subtle and deranged. It’s great. As far as structure and story is concerned, however, 2 Days in New York is far sparser than 2 Days in Paris and without that real appreciation for the melancholy that I found took it from good to great. The final scene in 2 Days in New York is unforgivable.
What I like the most, I think, is the relationship between Marion and Rose. They constantly bicker and fight in a way that strikes me as very genuine. Can things be very genuine or is it like very unique? In any case, I think that sensibility is something that shows a great talent and brings a movie up a couple notches. It’s like what I was talking about with Carnage (2011).
The comparisons with Woody Allen are definitely in the air. It’s New York, it’s odd relationship comedy, and there are gratuitous montages of random parts of the city. I think that’s where the comparisons should end. Their voices are as different as Bob Hope and…there’s no such thing as a French comedian. They’re different. Woody does one-liners, Julie does situation and confusion (which Woody does as well). The amount and kind of sexuality and drug use are far beyond anything Woody would put in a movie.
By far the greatest thing she has in common with Woody Allen is her fearless inclusion of herself in the movie. I don’t know Julie Delpy, I’ve never met her or cared to read gossip about her, but I suspect that the fickle, flighty, catty, compulsive liar is as close to her own personality as the anxious, cynical, death-fearing ball of tension is to Woody Allen’s. The difference is that while Woody shows himself as a victim of circumstance and the straight man to events, Delpy is almost as crazy as her family. I’m inclined to rate that as a superior quality than in Woody Allen. It takes guts to make yourself a villain. Maybe she (or women generally) doesn’t (don’t) see it that way.
Two observations: (1) This film coheres very tightly with my dislike and distrust of the French and (2) while the Fairy was awesome in 2 Days in Paris, he was an uninteresting cameo here. A third observation, and this one’s for free, 2 Days in Paris was awesome and 2 Days in New York was just funny enough to be okay.
If you like Woody Allen and Julie Delpy and expect to see this, then you should go to Amazon. It’s going to be more expensive to see it on the big screen and for no added value.