Sundance Dispatch #12: Time Travel, Chris Rock's Afro, Aubrey Plaza Actually Smiles and ... Just Come Read Me!

Sundance Dispatch #12: Time Travel, Chris Rock's Afro, Aubrey Plaza Actually Smiles and ... Just Come Read Me!

Jan 25, 2012

2 Days with Julie Delpy and Chris Rock

I first saw 2 Days in Paris at the Berlin Film Festival, by myself, surrounded by people who didn't speak my language. Written, directed by and starring Julie Delpy, the fish-out-of-water comedy about a couple from New York (Delpy and Adam Goldberg) who visit her family back in France, really resonated with me because at the time I was that fish out of water in a country where no one truly understood me. A few years later and I've definitely matured, but so has Delpy, who returned to Sundance with a sequel to 2 Days in Paris, 2 Days in New York. This time Goldberg is replaced by Mingus (Chris Rock), Delpy's new boyfriend, and this time her family travels to New York to visit her. Cue a lot of the same fish-out-of-water comedy, playing off the language barriers placed between her horny, French-speaking family and her somewhat reserved American live-in boyfriend Mingus.

Like in Paris, Delpy's real-life father (who also plays her on-screen father) steals practically the entire movie. The man doesn't speak a lick of English in the film or in real life, but he knows how to play that for huge laughs. Rock -- who was, well, rocking a sweet afro-in-progress at the film's premiere (see to your right) -- is a bit reserved here, playing a character that reacts more than he incites. He has his moments of comical monologues (particularly as he riffs to an Obama cardboard cut-out in preparation for an interview with the President he'll probably never get), but aside from that he's pretty toned down. Not as strong as Paris -- partly because Goldberg was more entertaining than Rock -- 2 Days in New York still maintains this great, down-to-earth relatable vibe that should resonate with any couple whose families always seem to get in the way.

Breaking: Aubrey Plaza Smiles in Safety Not Guaranteed!

Up until this point I haven't cared much for Aubrey Plaza's deadpan, uninterested approach to everything and everyone. Yeah it may be cute for a little while, and it may work when she's a secondary character or part of an ensemble like on Parks and Rec, but now that she's beginning to nab larger roles in feature films, this girl needs to evolve her shtick. Thankfully, she does just that in the Sundance time-travel comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, where she plays one part of a threesome of wannabe journalists (Plaza, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni ) who go on a road trip to track down a man who placed an ad in the classifieds claiming he's going to travel back in time and needs a partner.

This is the most range I've ever seen from Plaza, who definitely maintains her comfortable deadpan comedic stylings for a great majority of the film, but she also shares these great moments of emotion; she smiles, she cries, she aches, she dreams. As her character becomes increasingly lost in the world of this so-called time-traveler (played by an eccentric and excellent Mark Duplass), Plaza evokes the kind of emotional honesty that's been absent from her previous roles.

The film itself is a bit rocky and uneven, and it doesn't resolve a few of the storylines it sets up, but it's certainly entertaining for its entire 84-minute running time. Most of the film relies heavily on keeping us questioning whether or not this guy is really a time traveler or if he's just some crazy lunatic, and some may fault it for being too gimmicky in that respect, but at the same time it's super sweet and nerdy, and it never takes itself too seriously. Safety Not Guaranteed won't blow your mind, but it definitely won't make you want to travel back in time to prevent yourself from ever seeing it.


Categories: Features, Film Festivals
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