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2 Days in New York

Like its predecessor(2007’s “2 Days in Paris”), which was also written and directed by star Julie Delpy, it’s just entertaining enough to make it worth a look. It’s mostly light-hearted fare, but there’s also a sardonic edge, and Chris Rock comfortably fills the shoes of Adam Goldberg, who played Marion’s(Ms. Delpy’s)love interest in the first film. Mr. Goldberg’s character of Jack is referenced more than once, because Mingus(Mr. Rock)is living with Marion and helping her raise her offspring from that previous relationship. The tone is comic for the majority of its 96 minute running time, but it also pays homage to the recently deceased Marie Pillet(Julie Delpy’s mother from “2 Days in New York”—a role she also filled offscreen), as well as focusing heavily on Albert Delpy’s character of Jeannot(Julie’s real-life and onscreen father in both movies). This succeeds in making the sequel a bit more accessible than the original. The character of Jack was a neurotic mess, while Mingus appears to have it quite a bit more together. Outside of his penchant for talking to a life-size cut-out of President Barack Obama, he’s a relatively normal guy. Ms. Delpy is not aging as gracefully as fellow French knockout Juliette Binoche, and she is acutely aware of it(I’m not knocking Julie, btw, I continue to find her absolutely fetching). At one point in a flashback to her initial meetings with Mingus, she confides in him how she feels less attractive as she approaches 40 and puts on weight. “But, you’re French” Mingus craftily replies, which we recognize instantly as a compliment and as a way to help her assuage her neuroses. The moment and Rock’s timing is a gem.               Oh, I realize it’s all basically fish-out-of-water and mismatched couple stuff, but you attempt not to be charmed by it. Marion has had an amicable split from ex-lover Jack and is living in New York with new beau Mingus. Mingus, who also has a child from a previous relationship, shares his New York apartment with Marion and her young son. However, sneaking up on the horizon, the approaching visit from Marion’s Parisian family, which includes dad(Mr. Delpy), sister Rose(Alexia Landeau), and Rose’s boyfriend, Manu(Alexandre Nahon). Oh, and Manu also happens to be a former flame of Marion’s as well. Mingus ponders whether they will accept him or not, but that turns out to be the least of his worries. They like Mingus fine, but they arrive with a variety of eccentricities. Daddy, getting on, but still full of life despite losing his wife since the last film, tries to smuggle pounds of sausage through customs—only to be snagged. He also likes to “key” gas guzzling monstrosities(think Hummers)when he spots them on Manhattan streets. Sister Rose fancies walking around the apartment either scantily clad or completely sans clothing, much to Mingus’ chagrin and a married neighbor’s delight. The neighbor’s wife encounters Rose and Manu on the stuck elevator of the building, and proceeds to chastise them as they whip out and light up a joint to pass the time. Oh, those crazy French! That neighbor later threatens to have Marion evicted, upon which Marion pretends to have a brain tumour to garner pity. The ploy works, with the woman profusely apologizing for being so harsh—and then offers the services of her husband…who happens to be a doctor who specializes in treating such things. Yikes! Meanwhile, Marion just may be pregnant with Mingus’ child. Everything wraps up with a rousing conclusion at Belvedere Castle in Central Park. But before that, there is a hilarious cameo(for those in-the-know)from an infamous New York hipster…on the topic of Marion’s “soul”.               This film will arrive in select theaters in New York and L.A. on August 10th. But I was able to view it on Video On Demand in HD for the bargain price of $10.99 via Verizon Fios. This is an option that has saved me on more than one occasion in recent years when I’m unable to hike to the Big Apple to see an art-house film. Among the titles I’ve viewed when utilizing this method: “Melancholia” from Lars von Trier, “The Girlfriend Experience” and “Che” from Steven Soderbergh, “Centurion” from Neil Marshall and George A. Romero’s “Survival of the Dead”, among others. Select films are previewed this way up to a month in advance of the theater release for a very reasonable price—a price that drops while the movie is still running in theaters. Hey, it’s a win-win, and I intend to do a feature on this wonderful use of PPV technology in the not-to-distant future. I think that if you are a fan of Ms. Delpy, and especially the “Before Sunrise/Sunset” films, than you will enjoy the “2 Days” films. Not that they are necessarily similar. In fact, the Richard Linklater duo is far superior. But all four offerings coast quite a distance on Ms. Delpy’s international charm. She’s been delighting me for over two decades now, in both French and English language, and I bet if given the chance—that bug could bite you too.    Grade:  B-

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