Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in New York is indeed a follow-up to 2 Days in Paris (2007), but I’d stop short of calling it a sequel — you don’t even need to have seen the first film. (Anything you need to know is mentioned here in this review, though knowing at least one in-joke and some resonance from the first flick helps.) Also, I don’t think it’s necessary to have liked the first film in order to like this one. This is a markedly different movie. It has the kind of freedom that comes from a greater sense of ease as a filmmaker. The style is much looser and more prone to take stylistic chances (which, fortunately, pay off). But more, it slowly eases its way into a rather offbeat movie that goes places you almost certainly wouldn’t expect. With that in mind, I’d suggest you don’t explore a lot of the reviews (or the IMDb credits). Some of the reviews — especially, Roger Ebert’s — give away more information than I think they should.
The Woody Allen influence is still evident, especially when the Rodgers and Hart standard “Manhattan” plays over the opening credits. In fact, the film’s characters could easily be Marie-Christine Barrault’s out-of-control childern from Allen’s Stardust Memories (1981) — except they’re all grown up. The tone is unmistakably Allenesque — even with Chris Rock in what is more or less the Allen role, it works better than you might think.
The film takes place several years after 2 Days in Paris. Marion (Dely) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) have long since split-up and she and her child (by Jack) are living with radio talk-show host Mingus (Rock). They appear to have a pretty solid relationship — at least until Marion’s family (plus ex-boyfriend Manu, who is now an item with Rose) come to pay a visit. To say that the visit doesn’t start well is an understatement, since papa Jeannot (played by Delpy’s real father, Albert Delpy) gets busted by customs for trying to sneak in a variety of cheeses and sausage, which he had hidden on his person. The contraband may be gone, but the smell appears to have lingered — a prospect made that much less lovely by the old man’s seeming aversion to bathing. Notably absent from the second film is Marion’s mother, Anna (her real mother Marie Pillet, to whom the film is dedicated), who, like Pillet, has died.
These people are not exactly the snobbish French sophisticates we — and Mingus — might have been expecting. Far from it. The worst of the bunch is certainly Manu — decked out in a faded t-shirt proclaiming him “Obama’s Homeboy” — who parades his ex-boyfriend status and is upset that Marion has taken up with “the only brother in America who doesn’t smoke weed.” (Naturally, he ferrets out a dealer who delivers.) It only gets worse — straining the relationship between Marion and Mingus (who spends some time hiding in his little office “conversing” with a life-sized cardboard cutout of Obama) and Marion. But this culture-clash business is neither as simplistic as it at first looks, nor is it the whole film. I haven’t even mentioned Marion’s impending photo exhbit — with a very odd publicity gimmick. I can say no more, but I do very much recommend this quirky little movie. Rated R for language, sexual content, some drug use and brief nudity.