At the root of the most bitter romantic disagreements is a desperate plea that takes many forms but boils down to Why are you like this? The only people who ever have good answers (No, why are you like that? doesn't count) are in the movies.
Onscreen, as in life, people rarely utter the question out loud. But the push-pull of defining identity without too much compromise is the tension that animates a parade of romantic comedies (Ha, it's awesome that you're like that after all), weepy dramas (Damn, you're totally staying like that), and probably your Facebook page (Please like me being like this).
Julie Delpy's 2 Days in NY — a sequel to the actress-turned-director's patience-testing 2007 auteur project, 2 Days in Paris — has this tension. To this, it adds the tensions of poor parenting, mild xenophobia and gross moral negligence. There's a clinically insane father, a dead mother, a sociopathic sister, a vile lover for the sister. There's a history of divorce, the specter of career suicide, and a whole other movie's worth of lying. Ah, but it's a comedy — and, as Delpy's character says at the film's conclusion, a love story. An unremittingly condescending, visually dreary, unforgivably stupid comedy and a love story for narcissists.
Why are you like this, Julie Delpy? And why have you dragged Chris Rock into your shit soup? (And look, if you think "shit soup" isn't a very mature thing to call a movie, you haven't had to hear Alexia Landeau, who wrote the script with Delpy and co-stars, keep rhyming the name Mingus — Rock's character — with the word cunnilingus.)
Rock gets a couple of short scenes to himself, delivering what feel like improvised monologues to a cardboard cutout of President Obama. In a movie studded with terrible ideas, this one is merely weak, and he sells it as cleanly as he might have on a stand-up stage. Now that Rock has proved capable of surviving 2 Days in New York without losing ground as an actor or a comic presence, someone needs to put him in a movie that deserves him.