Writer and radio personality Mingus (Chris Rock) and artist Marion (Julie Delpy) live together with their children from prior relationships, Mingus’ daughter Willow (Talen Riley) and Marion’s son Lulu (Owen Shipman). They have a chaotic but happy-seeming domestic life, into which barge Jeanott (Albert Delpy), Marion’s delightfully crude and embarrassing father; Rose (Alexia Landeau), her competitive sister, and Manu (Alexandre Nahon), a shlubby loser of a guy whom Marion used to date and who is now dating Rose. His presence is the first of many unpleasant surprises about Marion’s family’s visit. Others: Rose’s tendency to walk around naked, Manu’s insistence on finding some weed (which Mingus tells Willow is just souvenir grass from Central Park) and whatever Rose and Manu were doing in the bathroom that kept Mingus and Marion up at night. Meanwhile, Marion is trying to put the finishing touches on an art show that she’s been working on for years.
When I say “cultures clash,” sure, I sort of mean French and American, but more than that I mean the culture of one family, say the nuclear family you grew up in, and another, the family you create as an adult, for example. Marion is a grown woman, a mother and a partner to Mingus, but when Rose shows up they start sniping and hair-pulling much as you expect they did as children. Mingus is horrified to watch her devolve into what is probably some version of her teenage self. This conflict makes for some pretty solid in-law humor and gives Rock a chance to be funny on a quieter level than you see in, for example, movies like Grown Ups.
Delpy, who also directs and co-wrote the screenplay, shines in her nicely unshiny role. She makes Marion believable in all facets of her life — mom, daughter, artist, harried middle-aged woman. She also lets Marion be, while still quiet pretty, nicely unglamorous. It is a very human, genuine role and it’s not surprising that a woman wrote it. Even her dizzier moments have none of the falseness that movies usually give to women going through domestic upheaval.
Another solid, smart comedy that you can watch at home (via the “in theaters” section of On Demand), 2 Days in New York is a likeable, agreeable visit with your slightly zany couple friends. B
Rated R for language, sexual content, some drug use and nudity. Directed by Julie Delpy with a screenplay by Delpy and Alexia Landeau with a story by Landeau and Alexandre Nahon, 2 Days in New York is an hour and 36 minutes long and distributed by Magnolia Pictures.