Okay. Chris Rock and a white French woman — wait for it — Yes, it is funny, and for reasons that you would not imagine. Rock and Julie Delpy star in "2 Days in New York," a romantic farce open in theaters today.
Directed by Delpy ("2 Days in Paris"), "2 Days in New York" is the whimsical story of an inter-racial couple. Mingus (Chris Rock), an ambitious reporter for the Village Voice, forms a friendship with Marion (Julie Delpy), a photographer at the paper, giving her a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to lean on as she whines about her life in general and her ex-husband in particular. Soon their relationship turns physical and they move into a New York apartment, each bringing a child from a previous relationship. Along with their spoiled cat, they form a cozy and quiet family unit. However, their peaceful sanctuary is about to be invaded.
Marion gets word that her family is coming from France for a visit, including her father Jeannot (Delpy's real-life father, Albert Delpy) and sister Rose (Alexia Landeau). While it is a minor inconvenience, given the language barrier and cultural differences, Mingus is actually looking forward to their arrival. However, his outlook begins to sour when Jeannot and Rose are accompanied by Rose's boyfriend Manu (Alex Nahon), who also had a hot and heavy relationship with Marion.
The problems begin almost immediately when Rose, a child psychiatrist, immediately decides that Marion's son, Lulu, is autistic. Rose is also an over-sexed exhibitionist who likes to walk around the apartment naked. The well-meaning, but highly annoying Jeannot curses and talks openly about sex in front of the children, but it is the outrageous Manu that makes the situation unbearable. As if his warped sense of humor weren't bad enough, he appears to have no morals whatsoever, and deliberately pushes Mingus' buttons at every opportunity. As their arguments escalate, will Mingus and Marion's relationship survive this test?
With a screenplay written by Julie Delpy and Alexia Landeau, the pursuit of the answer to that question is hilarious, and subtitles, which can sometimes be annoying, are an integral and effective component of their comedy.
A small ensemble piece, "2 Days in New York" is a superb vehicle for Chris Rock, who simply does not have the "chops" or the temperament to carry a multi-million dollar blockbuster on his back. However, he is clearly in his element in this intimate atmosphere — able to flex his formidable comedic muscles while fully developing a character. While it initially appeared that he would not have any chemistry with the strangely amusing Delpy, by the end of the film everyone was pulling for a happy ending to their twisted romance.
The rest of the outrageous ensemble was clearly having a blast as they upset Mingus and Marion's orderly existence. Albert Delpy had a visible twinkle in his eye as he made a fool of himself, while Landeau had a high old time playing a hoochie. Nahon's obnoxious Manu came very close to getting choked out.
While this 91-minute romp was a lot of fun, it did have its faults. One faux pas that I noticed is that Marion initially stated that she was 38 years old, but about three minutes later said that she was 37. Apparently someone in the continuity department was asleep at the switch.
With a bold, unfiltered and unfettered ensemble and a zany screenplay, "2 Days in New York," an adventurous undertaking by Chris Rock will show him in an intriguing new light. (Rated "R").