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Hip talk-radio host and journalist Mingus (Chris Rock) and his French photographer girlfriend, Marion (Julie Delpy), live cozily in a New York apartment with their cat and two young children from previous relationships. But when Marion’s jolly father (played by Delpy’s real-life dad, Albert Delpy), her oversexed sister, and her sister’s outrageous boyfriend unceremoniously descend upon them for an overseas visit, it initiates two unforgettable days of family mayhem. With their unabashed openness and sexual frankness, the triumvirate is bereft of boundaries or filters. . . and no one is left unscathed in its wake. The visitors push every button in the couple’s relationship, truly putting it to the test. How will the couple fare. . . when the French come to New York?
Setting the stage for a culture clash
It’s the next big step: meeting the relatives. Maybe you get a little nervous, take a little while to warm up to everybody, but, hopefully, everything will go smoothly. But somebody forgot to warn poor Mingus: HERE COME THE FRENCH.
After shooting her 2009 dark thriller, ‘The Countess’, writer/director/actress Julie Delpy decided it was time for a comedy – a genre at which she had proven herself quite adept two years earlier, with ‘2 Days in Paris’, a successful romantic comedy co-starring Adam Goldberg. “I thought, ‘Okay, why not a sequel?’” she says. “But I knew I couldn’t do a sequel with the same guy, because that would be too much like ‘Before Sunset’ and ‘Before Sunrise’, two romantic gems she had starred in and co-write with Ethan Hawke, directed by Richard Linklater. “Out of respect for those films, and for Richard and Ethan, I knew I couldn’t do that.”
So Delpy spent the next year or so thinking and taking notes, as she usually does, figuring out the next step in Marion’s life. “Marion seems to go from relationship to relationship. She’s not after getting the ring and getting married – her issue is commitment, chemistry and figuring out her life,” she says. “That’s the serious part.”
All good comedies, the director notes, have, at their core, a true reality. “I like to build on real ground – not necessarily drama, but on a reality. I’ll pick a subject matter that could be a drama. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a funny story. But then I turn it around with crazy situations and characters – that’s what makes it funny.”
The first thing Delpy had to figure out was who Marion’s new guy would be – and that didn’t take long. “I thought, ‘I want someone new as a boyfriend. Who is it?’ And the first person that came to mind was Chris Rock.’”
While the obvious thought would be that Delpy wanted to create a bi-racial couple, that’s not the case. “It was never about that. I just love his energy. Chris has a neurotic side, which I really like. He has an angst about him that I think is endearing and which I thought would make a really interesting dynamic in this relationship.”