Director, co-writer, and star Julie Delpy continues her exploration of the romantic comedy in the sequel to her charismatic 2007 film 2 Days in Paris. Taking place a few years after the first film ended, Parisian-turned-New-Yorker Marion is now a mother, and the audience is prompted to the changes in Marion’s life by her narration and through flashbacks. (A puppet show she performs to explain her complicated relationships to the young children in her life bookends the film.) Her former boyfriend Jack (played in 2 Days in Paris by Adam Goldberg, who is sadly missing from this film) is the father of her young son, Lulu. The couple decided to part ways, prompted by Marion’s unhappiness in the relationship as well as her growing connection to co-worker, Mingus (Chris Rock, who has the most success in bringing true moments of comedy to the film).
Marion, Mingus, Lulu, and Mingus’s daughter are now all living happily together. The bulk of the film concerns itself with the first two days of Marion’s family visit to their New York City apartment: her father (Delpy’s real-life dad, Albert Delpy); her sister, Rose (Alexia Landeau); and Rose’s current boyfriend, Manu (Alex Nahon), who also happens to be one of Marion’s exes. Mingus meets them for the first time, and the very next night also happens to be the opening of photographer Marion’s much anticipated art show. Her family as well as her already present insecurities put Marion and Mingus’ relationship to the test.
The whole thing escalates into what seems like an endless barrage of over-the-top sitcom scenarios. The film’s tempo, unlike the more evenly paced feel of 2 Days in Paris, is frenetic, trying to fit in every possible “my-family-is-crazy-but-lovable” moment: Marion’s father is detained at the airport for smuggling in sausages, Rose brings Manu completely unannounced, and Manu immediately asks Mingus the best way to purchase marijuana. Those are just a few early instances of the kind of comedy the film presents, all heightened by a language and cultural barrier. These characters and the American-French culture-collide are much more nuanced in Paris. While some moments are amusing, New York crumbles under the weight of them all. The film attempts shock by touching on sex, race, and politics while also trying to situate itself as a contemporary romantic comedy. It’s a bit too much to handle, especially when the film wants so desperately to make a character study of Marion.
It doesn’t help that there are very few serious moments between characters, or even in the depiction of Marion, in the midst of the hectic comedy. What seemed to be another bit of humor concerning Marion’s performance art piece—in which she intends to sell her soul to a paying customer—turns out to be part of her search for meaning in life and her struggling with the recent death of her mother. The film attempts to create a climactic ending with these personal revelations, but they are too underdeveloped.
It’s difficult not to compare the two 2 Days films, despite the fact that the second tries hard to prove that Marion is in a different place in her life. She is, however, the same character with similar problems in a new setting. Marion’s world of art, anxiety and culture clashing is still all there, but in New York, it fails to charm and humor in quite the same way as in Paris.