Whilst perusing the appraisals of my colleagues, A.O. Scott and Roger Ebert regarding the film 2 Days in New York (director and partially written by Julie Delpy) I am left wishing, not for the first time, I were blonde and/or French. This film, to which I would unhesitantly apply the critical term "serious sack o' merde," instead is inexplicably coddled as "a charming mess" (Scott), who furthermore finds Chris Rock (the one intermittently funny element in the film) a cold and rejecting partner to the multi talented and bilingual Delpy. Ebert, too, rewarded this flimsy effort with an obscene number of stars (3 and1/2 out of 4). Au contraire, mon freres.
Looking over their work I'm concerned, too, that I don't tell you enough of the plot. But do you really need to know that Delpy and Rock work for "The Voice" (local color), she as a photographer and he as a cultural critic, and that he has not one but two radio shows? Or that her family is visiting from France, her mother has recently died, and her photography exhibit opens that weekend? As far as I'm concerned, these details are beyond the scope of duty, yours or mine, as are the names of the Rock/Delpy characters. Isn't it enough to say there are beaucoup jokes about rude, stinky French people, and that the most entertaining thing for me in the first forty minutes was figuring out which of their children (from previous relationships. There, I told you something plot-related) is named Willow and which is Lulu, and whether the small blond toddler (named Lulu!) could possibly be a boy. Oh, and what the hell Chris Rock is doing in this amateur hour. Isn't he a big star or something?
Perhaps, as Scott points out, he seems disgruntled here beyond the strict demands of the role. Is he really supposed to be disgusted beyond the point of return by the French sister and her boyfriend using his electric toothbrush as a sex toy? Because we have a long way to go. But I'm fine with it, because he provides, either by improvising lines or simply by his delivery, a few, if not laughs, then smiles. Something existentially missing from all the madcap Franco-American blather.
In its own way, Netflix is a time machine. Not the cool kind, that takes you back to another century or millennium, but a more modest sort that delivers you 18 months in the past. Time enough, however, to separate the wheat from the hype, and, given the interim passing of Roger Ebert, to remind us that we don't have time for this nonsense.
Through my Netflix time wormhole, I would also urge 2012 Julie Delpy to calm down. In spite of her well-founded anxiety--based on a scene where a critic savages her photography exhibit as poorly executed and not showing her tits enough--that she's producing a stinker here, she will move on to the well-regarded Before Midnight in 2013. She will do fine work as a writer and actress; she will show her tits; she will be nominated for a Golden Globe.
Update 2014: She won't win.