Marion (Julie Delpy) is an artist who now resides in New York City, having split up with her last boyfriend, though not before they had a child together; he is an American, so she thinks it's best that the kid sees his father regularly, and besides there have been further complications since they broke up. One is beneficial: her new boyfriend is Mingus (Chris Rock), who works as a talk radio host, and has a daughter from a previous relationship, though he's still on good terms with his ex-wife, and they stay in an apartment with the children. But families are always tricky to deal with, as Marion finds out when she invites hers over from France...
One of those examples of a sequel being better than the original, 2 Days in New York was the follow-up to 2 Days in Paris where Adam Goldberg had taken the boyfriend role, but was nowhere to be seen this time aroud, unless you count his puppet form. Many accused Delpy, who co-wrote, starred in, co-produced, directed and composed the music for this, of taking her Woody Allen obsession too far in trying to become his French female equivalent, but at least if that were the case she was taking her cue from the better efforts of her inspiration, so if this was not up there with Annie Hall and the like, it would entertain you if you appreciated her neurotic but comedic stylings.
Delpy had observations about the human condition to impart to us, but not before she had a laugh with some near-caricature versions of her family, and herself for that matter. Since she made the Paris instalment, where she had cast her real life parents as her character's parents, her mother had passed away which evidently had an big affect on her, as you'd expect, but also in her writing. Fortunately as her father Albert Delpy returned for this, she didn't make him some miserable, moping, forlorn wreck of a man, as in many ways he was the funniest character, speaking in French for most of the movie to comic effect, and before we're barely introduced to him we discover he has tried to smuggle cheese and sausages through American customs.
Every scene with Delpy's dad is highly amusing, whether she based him on what he's really like or not only she knows, but it was part of the film's charm that she was so generous to her co-stars. Also appearing from France were her sister Rose (Alexia Landeau), a child psychologist with even more mental issues than Marion, and the unwanted visitor Manu (Alexandre Nahon), Rose's disreputable boyfriend whose most notable act on arrival is to invite a drug dealer up to the apartment because he's dismayed to discover Mingus doesn't smoke that stuff. The culture clash business may have been a collection of easy targets, but it did generate a hearty number of laughs, although you might need a high tolerance for angst in your jokes to get along with Delpy's approach.
But everyone gets stressed about their lives at some point, right? So you could relate to Marion's worries when her family let her down, and she becomes anxious that her relationship with Mingus is suffering, that her upcoming art show will fail, and her son won't grow up normal. Then there's the soul she is selling as part of that show, being a modern thinker she thinks little of it, a simple way to make money and a statement, but as the deal goes through her paranoia hits and regrets loom, especially when she tracks down the anonymous buyer (a priceless cameo, what great casting). The point being she can try to be capable and even blasé about her existence, but she's fooling herself if she doesn't acknowledge how much she cares and how much it winds her up. We can tell Mingus is someone worth hanging onto, and Rock offered a movie career best performance in a role that was a perfect match for him, so when she looks at her widower father she can accept even if good times don't last, that doesn't mean you should dismiss them while they are here. But in a funny way.