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Review: 2 Days in New York (2012)

2 Days in New York (2012)

Directed by: Julie Delpy

Premise: A sequel to 2 Days in Paris. A New York couple (Julie Delpy and Chris Rock) has their life thrown into disarray when her French family comes for a visit. 

What Works: 2 Days in New York is an enjoyable film that combines romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally and Meet the Parents with comedies of manners like The Philadelphia Story and Annie Hall. That combination works for the film and director, co-writer, and co-star Julie Delpy manages an impressive range of comedic material from crass sexual jokes to political humor to situational comedy. Normally that kind of mixture would kill a film but this picture manages to assimilate all of it and create a balanced tone. In fact, the varied comedic elements work well for the movie as it offers a wide range of humor and viewers who wouldn’t normally enjoy a bawdy comedy will find themselves laughing at the other material. The picture works on the whole because it is very charming and that charm is rooted in a love story that is given life by credible and empathetic characters. Julie Delpy and Chris Rock play the couple and the two actors are very good both as a couple and as individuals. The filmmakers of 2 Days in New York pick up on something that a lot of romantic filmmakers miss which is that members of a couple are simultaneously individuals with their own passions while also a collective unit. The story of 2 Days in New York is designed in such a way that both Delpy and Rock’s characters are given opportunities to show that each of them has their own life and as a result they become distinct characters. After establishing them as individuals the film brings them together and the conflicts arise out of the way their individual goals conflict with the needs of the relationship. 2 Days in New York handles this very well and it manages to treat its characters sensitively in ways that make the viewer want to see them overcome their obstacles and live happily ever after.

What Doesn’t: 2 Days in New York is a lightweight piece of indie filmmaking and it has some of the obnoxious traits familiar to these kinds of films. For one, it emulates Woody Allen films to a fault and anyone familiar with Annie Hall, Manhattan, or A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy will see the echoes of his work here. The picture also has the quirkiness reminiscent of Woody Allen’s projects in particular and indie filmmaking more broadly. One of the most obvious is that this is yet another movie about middle-aged artists living in New York City. Thankfully 2 Days in New York avoids the kinds of obnoxious existential crises that artistic characters are often given in a film like this and the characterization takes the picture in different directions but it is nevertheless rooted in this same kind of story. The French characters, although charming, are European stereotypes who are oversexed and constantly drink wine and eat croissants. Their function in the film is to create conflict by being naively insufferable like Randy Quaid’s character in the National Lampoon Vacation films but at times they come across as incredibly dense. 2 Days in New York is also very much a film of 2012 and elements of it will demark it as a product of this particular time. That isn’t necessarily bad but it is a film that is predisposed to age very quickly.  

Bottom Line: 2 Days in New York is enjoyable despite being a little too conventional as a New York-based indie comedy. The film’s characters largely save the movie and the performances by Julie Delpy and Chris Rock make it fun to watch.

Episode: #400 (August 12, 2012)