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Sundance 2012 Day 6: Rock on a roll

Posted by Ty Burr  January 24, 2012 01:01 PM

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2 Days.jpgFinally, some high-profile Sundance evening premieres that are just plain fun to watch. "2 Days in New York" is writer-director-star Julie Delpy's sequel to "2 Days in Paris," and, if anything, it's even more antic -- more purely a farce of neuroses and high-spirited family grievances. Relocated to Manhattan, Delpy's Marion is living with her toddler Lulu (Owen Shipman) and new boyfriend Mingus (Chris Rock), an NPR reporter, when her family arrives from Paris for an extended stay. Dad (Albert Delpy, Julie's own pere) is an old goat, sister Rose (Alexia Landeau, who co-wrote the script) is a tightly-wound nympho, and hanger-on Manu (Alexandre Nahon) is every American's worst idea of a Frenchman, blowing joints in the elevator and borrowing Mingus' toothbrush for unimaginable sexual activities.

It's a comedy of miscommunication, fast-paced, hyper-talkative, and more than occasionally silly. Without Rock it might fly in 20 different directions. But the comedian anchors the film as its wise-cracking straight man -- we see the invading Frenchies through his increasingly pinwheeling eyes -- and Delpy isn't afraid to try anything. Just when you think "2 Days in New York" can't get any crazier, Vincent Gallo turns up to buy Marion's soul, and his brief appearance is like a greasy indie benediction to a Sundance that truly needs it. If Woody Allen was a woman and was French -- I'm sure he's had dreams about this -- and if he loosened up his filmmaking until the comedy started bubbling out of every corner, he might come up with something like this.

The director and her cast were present at the screening, Delpy vibrating with nervous energy and Rock fielding most of the questions from the crowd. On playing a romantic lead opposite the star, Rock said, "I read the script and thought, 'What, is Ethan Hawke dead?'" Asked why she chose to make a sequel, Delpy deadpanned, "They wouldn't let me make a 'Bourne' movie." I think they should.

Speaking of Q&A's, by far the most honest response I've ever heard from a Sundance stage came from "Bachelorettes" co-star Rebel Wilson after the film finished screening at around midnight: "I'm really drunk right now and I need to find the toilet, so I don't remember the question." After that, neither did anyone else. The movie divided the audience, mostly because it plays like "Bridesmaids" (sorry, filmmakers, the comparison's unavoidable) with a pronounced nasty streak. Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, and Lizzy Kaplan play the mean-girl best friends of bride-to-be Wilson, still acting out their clique roles as, respectively, the Queen Bee, the dummy, and the slut. Wilder was the fat one who made the others feel better about themselves; now she's marrying a rich hunk and sending her friends into fits of suppressed rage.

First-timer Leslye Headland directs from her stage-play, a spiraling-disaster comedy that sends the three into the night to repair the wedding dress and their own pathetic love lives. The dialogue is filthy and pretty damned funny, and the cast fires it off without ever caring whether they have your sympathy, which is refreshing until it isn't. "Bachelorettes" is one of those daring indie farces that pats itself on the back for resisting convention for two acts, then gives in to every one of those conventions in the third. I will say this, though: God bless Isla Fisher, who gives every one of her dimwitted lines of dialogue an adorably wide-eyed top-spin. "I think I might be stupid," her character says at one point, a conclusion the movie itself might have reached to its benefit at some point.

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Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

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Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

Katie McLeod is's features editor.

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