What Happened Julie From Paris to New York?!
2 Days In New York (2012)
A Review by Ben Hunter
2 Out of 5 Stars
July 6, 2012
"Get to the Point Ben!" When you compare it to “Vintage Woody Allen” like it’s been getting from some critics, it becomes a terrible movie. When you take it in on its own merit, it’s just a bad movie that could’ve been better had Julie Delpy (writer/director/star) gone with someone with better chemistry in the casting of her counterpart and not gone with Chris Rock. Who’s clearly trying to use this film to show he’s a serious actor now and not just “that funny guy” anymore. There were so many moments where you could see him just holding back what he would’ve normally done as a comedian in a movie and instead making the choice of “what he thinks a serious actor would do here instead”.
After spending 2 days in Paris, Marion (Julie Delpy) has gone on living back home in New York and has broken up with her boyfriend who seemed like her future, soon to be husband, and is raising their son Lulu (so manly of a name, I wonder whose choice that was). After becoming a confidant in Marion’s mid-life crisis of pushing 40, no man, a single mother, and in fear of her new and probably her greatest art exhibit “her soul” not getting any buyers, Mingus (Chris Rock) has become more than a colleague or confidant and the two have started dating. 6 months later they move in together, along with Mingus’ daughter Willow, and they become one big happy family of 4. On the eve of Marion’s big art exhibit expo, her family comes into town to bear witness (her father, sister, and sister’s boyfriend who is also Marion’s ex). Their French quirkiness and out of tune with American culture behavior brings more stress to Marion & Mingus, causing their children to go crazy as well. As this all builds up to the big art exhibit, driving Marion and everything in her life up the wall, over the next 2 days in New York.
I had such high hopes for this film. Julie Delpy indeed has an amazing quality as a filmmaker, which heavily resembles the style of Woody Allen. She’s the new female version. Based on the marketing of this film, it looked like vintage Woody as critics were deeming it. But it fell so far from that honorable compliment. Sure some of the comedy was just like Woody’s with a feminine sprinkle of ingredients to it, which is why I love Julie’s work. However, this film didn’t come together to work in an amazing way, where everything connected in the end such as it did for its predecessor in Paris.
This is mainly due to the writing. I think Julie and her team were so focused on trying to be so intelligent with their comedy that it came off as just that, trying, and not being. I became sure of this feeling by the end with the ending monologue from Delpy herself; which was the cherry on top to make this film seem like a primetime, soon to be cancelled NBC network television show (or a bad Sex & the City episode with that ending monologue) and not an intriguing and intelligent film which Delpy normally delivers (like she did in “Paris”). But it’s tough. Comedy is the hardest genre to make and this is why I absolutely LOVE sophisticated and classy comedy. It has that intellect and educates you, making you feel like you’re such an important person, yet you’re laughing and having fun. Why Woody Allen is one of my all time favorite filmmakers. I didn’t feel any of that here with Julie’s “New York”, a feeling I felt ten times over with “Paris”.
So that leads to chemistry. Adam Goldberg was a perfect counterpart for Julie to work with in 2 Days In Paris. The two played extremely well off of each other as their innate natures to complain meshed well together and created quirky yet sophisticated comedic storytelling. In “New York”, Chris Rock was far from a great counterpart for Julie to mesh her quirky personality with. No fault of Julie’s in the acting, just in the casting as this film’s leader. She took a chance, and I’m happy she did. It’s just a gamble at times. Rock knows what people only know him as, a funny guy, a comedian that gets parts in movies. So it was clear that he made it his mission to be an actor who was cast in this movie and not a comedian who was cast. His inner battles were what destroyed any chance of amazing chemistry with his main acting partner, Julie. He’s used to giving that big smile and then saying something funny. But instead I could see him fighting with everything to hold back that big smile he’s now instinctively felt to give and then saying or doing something “he thinks a serious actor would do”. It’s as if he kept saying to himself, “no don’t say that, the comedian in me would say that and I want people to take me serious as an actor now”. Then a halfway decent to terrible action or line of dialogue would proceed from him or because of him. So scenes that are meant to be funny are either terrible or just halfway decent because Chris Rock doesn’t know how to act!
I really like how Julie’s relationship with her father progresses professionally in her career on camera as well. With the loss of her mother, she and her father utilize every moment they have together, even in Julie work behind and in front of the camera. So it was nice to see the two play off of each other like they did in “Paris”. The 100% good thing about this film is Julie’s French heritage and culture. This is key in all her films. She’s still so in tune with her roots, after being Americanized all this time, that it’s a breath of fresh air to see how at one she is with her heritage. So to see her interact with the French characters in this film was nothing short of amazing. When I read the French subtitles, it didn’t feel like I was reading at all, but experiencing. This is apart of the magic that Julie Delpy brings to the table in the world of cinema. In her early work as a young, dramatic, and romantic looking actress, to her intellectual comedic work as a filmmaker today; the fact that she’s so in tune with who she is, what her roots are in French culture, and how much she loves her family is what draws me to her as an actress and filmmaker.
So I expected more from her with “New York”. I’ve witnessed so much better.
2 Days in New York
Comedy, 96 Minutes, R
Written by: Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon, & Julie Delpy
Directed by: Julie Delpy
Cast: Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon, & Albert Delpy