Cultural stereotypes provide cheap and easy laughs in Julie Delpy’s boisterous sequel to her 2007 amuse-bouche, ‘2 Days In Paris’.
Featuring the same larger-than-life characters, this culture clash comedy is scatter-shot and sporadically funny, but lacks the bonhomie of its predecessor, taking pot shots at predictable targets.
The script, co-written by co-star Alexia Landeau, flows back and forth in English and French, juxtaposing miscommunications between the undernourished characters.
Crucially, the relationship between Delpy and her new on-screen partner Chris Rock strains credibility because there is scant evidence that such wildly different personalities would ever find romance in each other’s arms. Indeed, Rock catalyses more screen chemistry with the cardboard cut-out of Barack Obama, which becomes a confidant of sorts in time of stress.
A charming, low-budget puppet show prologue recaps plot developments since the first film.
Neurotic artist Marion (Delpy) is no longer romantically entangled with Jack (the unseen Adam Goldberg).
She is happily ensconced in New York with radio DJ Mingus (Chris Rock) and her young son Lulu (Owen Shipman), who affectionately refers to the new beau as “fake daddy”.
A visit from her papa (Albert Delpy), sister Rose (Landeau) and Rose’s pot-smoking partner Manu (Alex Nahon) begins badly when the two men are stopped at US customs, attempting to smuggle 10 sausages and eight cheeses into the country in their undergarments.
The dysfunctional clan’s arrival coincides with Marion’s forthcoming exhibition of photographs, which will culminate in her making an existential statement by selling her soul to the highest bidder.
As opening night approaches, tensions escalate in Marion and Mingus’s cramped apartment, exacerbated by the language barrier between the radio host and his garrulous guests.
Arguments sow the seeds of relationship discontent and Marion frets about the ramifications of spending the rest of her life with one man.
“That’s a lot of sex with the same person… or no sex at all for 60 years!” she muses in voiceover.
‘2 Days In New York’ bids adieu to subtlety as the script plays up the French as unhygienic, fromage-guzzling flirts who lack sensitivity or social graces.
They smoke in lifts, brazenly wander around the apartment au naturelle and keep their hosts awake with their libidinous antics.
Delpy, her real-life father and European co-stars reprise their roles with ease, while Rock looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights as his character’s life is turned on its head.
A cameo from indie auteur Vincent Gallo as himself is a wasted opportunity, which epitomises the film as a whole.
Our frustration with Marion’s loved ones flares up well before Mingus explodes, and we challenge the harried heroine’s assertion that this scatter-brained farce is “just a love story with a happy ending”.
Star Rating: 3/5.