Julie Delpy and Chris Rock transform a nerve-fraying family reunion in a cramped and crazed Manhattan setting into a comedic delight
One of the scariest sentences someone can utter to a spouse or partner is: “My family is coming.”
That’s exactly what happens in “2 Days in New York,” when Marion (Julie Delpy) tells Mingus (Chris Rock), her live-in beau in a New York City apartment, that her father and sister are arriving from Paris for a visit.
Scary, yes, but also the pivot point for the amusing angst, misunderstandings and spats that follow in this delightful, breezy comedy from Delpy, who serves triple duty here as co-writer, director and star.
The film is a sequel to the French actress’ 2007 comedy, “2 Days in Paris,” though it stands up just fine by itself, and you don’t have to have seen the first film to enjoy this one.
Delpy again plays Marion, a photographer with a young son from a previous relationship (with Jack, an American played by Adam Goldberg in the first movie). Mingus, a radio talk show host and journalist, has an only slightly older daughter from one of his two previous marriages, and all four are squeezed into a smallish Manhattan apartment.
Things get yet more cramped when Marion’s free-spirited father (played by Albert Delpy, the star’s real-life dad) and exhibitionist sister (Alexia Landeau, who co-wrote the screenplay) show up. Even worse, the sister has brought along her sleazy boyfriend (Alexandre Nahon), with whom Marion briefly had a fling years ago. (All three characters appeared previously in “2 Days in Paris.”)
Tensions between the previously happy couple mount, with Marion finding her loyalties divided between Mingus and her misbehaving family members, who constantly embarrass and irritate her as only family can. For Marion, the push-pull between her boyfriend and her family all comes to a head during the opening at an art gallery of a show of her photos where — symbolism alert — she has also put her soul up for sale as a conceptual art project.
Delpy makes some telling points about relationships, both romantic and familial, and the stress of keeping it together when too many different forces are pulling you in separate directions. The performances are all engaging, with Delpy especially creating a contemporary woman believably teetering on the edge of frazzledness.
“2 Days in New York” is loose-limbed and freewheeling, and while there’s not really much at stake, it’s fun spending 91 minutes in the company of this crew. When the movie is over, you realize that you have come to know and like Delpy’s posse a lot and look forward to the next two-day outing in their company.