No, you’ve not got déjà vu. The title might look familiar. But this is French actress and filmmaker Julie Delpy taking to heart the line that directors make the same film over and over. In 2007, Delpy wrote and directed the spiky romcom 2 Days in Paris, starring as a photographer, Marion, who takes her uptight New Yorker boyfriend back to Paris to meet the parents.
Five years later, and Delpy has reversed the roles: la famille is in New York to meet the boyfriend (a new one, Mingus, played by Chris Rock). And it’s more of the same, with diminishing returns: less bite and more screwballish, madcap farce.
This time, Marion and journalist Mingus are living the Manhattan dream in a loft with kids (each has a child from a previous relationship). All hell breaks loose with the French invasion: Marion’s dad (Albert Delpy, the director’s father), who is busted by customs for having sausages taped to his chest; her nymphomaniac sister Rose (Alexia Landeau); and Rose’s stoner boyfriend (Alexandre Nahon). Delpy has a sharp eye for cross-cultural comic clangers. Mingus introduces Marion’s dad to an Obama staffer. ‘Socialist!’ the old leftie cheers. The staffer backs away horrified.
In the last film, Marion was a Woody Allen-ish kook. Here, she’s borderline certifiable within five minutes of her family landing at JFK (although if Woody is watching, he might get ideas from seeing Rock beautifully pull off Mingus’s neuroses).
What’s missing are the sharp edges of 2 Days in Paris, a film that was a riff of sorts on the pair of movies Delpy made with Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset). Falling in love is the easy bit, was her acid message – try staying together. Serial monogamy as a fact of modern life felt like a daring direction for a romcom. Taking pot shots at the French does not – those frisky, sex-mad soap dodgers!