* (out of four)
Let’s play a game: A new comedy features jokes about stereotypical French people smuggling sausage into the U.S., pigeons pooping on people, a couple who uses an electric toothbrush during sex and gratuitous shots of the butts of both a beautiful young woman and an overweight old man. What filmmaker do you think takes responsibility?
If you say you guessed Julie Delpy (best known as Celine in “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset”), you’re lying. Five years ago Delpy wrote, directed and starred in “2 Days in Paris,” but that film, while unconvincing as a discussion of struggling romance, was more likely to spark conversation than aggravation. “2 Days in New York,” on the other hand, features exclusively annoying characters engaged in shenanigans (like the inability to have sex because a handyman shows up to fix the buzzer) that land a long way from any statement Delpy ineptly tries to make about love, family or people’s attempts to come to terms with death.
The farce begins when Marion (director/co-writer Delpy) and Mingus (Chris Rock) open their New York apartment to Marion’s widower father (Delpy’s actual father Albert), Marion’s sister Rose (Alexia Landeau, who co-wrote the script) and Rose’s boyfriend Manu (Alexandre Nahon), Marion’s ex. Just because “2 Days in New York” is a small, low-budget effort doesn’t mean it avoids the worst instincts of the “Meet the Parents” franchise, giggling about sex and drugs with smarts on par with an Adam Sandler movie.
Supposedly Marion’s art exhibition touches on relationships fading over time, yet her work possesses no connection to her current one. Her conceptual piece involving the sale of her soul as a written contract recalls an episode of “The Simpsons” long before it descends into a ridiculous interaction between Marion and a well-known filmmaker. Without giving anything away, that conversation results in a careless conflict that puts a child’s well-being at stake without acknowledging Marion’s sloppy priorities.
In voiceover, Delpy tries to clumsily tack heavy meaning onto a film that includes Marion’s father saying he won’t shower but wants to masturbate and Marion claiming she has a brain tumor just to deter the frustrations of a neighbor. Culturally insensitive Manu’s presented as the worst person here; he tells Mingus, “You’re so lucky to be black,” and sets up a drug deal at his hosts’ place. But nobody comes off more appealing than anyone else. Sheesh, at least when a young child went to the bathroom in the air during “The Change-Up” it wasn’t after the main characters attempted to measure the tyke’s penis.
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