If there’s anything slightly positive about not going the theater in the past couple of months is that we aren’t getting The Lovebirds trailer constantly. Ever since January, I saw it six times before every non-kids movie I paid to see. The downside to all of this is that it wasn’t able to have its premiere at this spring’s SXSW and pulled its schedule when it was originally supposed to come out last month on April 3rd. Thankfully, this was picked up by Netflix so we can enjoy the laughter at home and the hijinks that will probably ensue.
What’s the Story: On the brink of breaking up, Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) get unintentionally embroiled in a bizarre murder mystery. As they get closer to clearing their names and solving the case, they need to figure out how they, and their relationship, can survive the night in New Orleans.
The second collaboration between star Nanjiani and director Michael Showalter was something I was excited to see after 2017’s The Big Sick. To me, that was one of my favorite movies of the year, proving wisely its lead breakout star would become big outside stand-up and how it was snubbed for Best Picture. Now, adding Rae into the mix might make it worthwhile. But moving The Lovebirds to Netflix made sense in my mind since it does have the appeal of a comedy that would stream on there. I didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Everybody has been saying the same positive when talking about the movie, and it’s true. Rae and Nanjiani had authentic chemistry with each other throughout, and I bought them as a couple. Hearing that the both of them were going to play a couple in a comedy was perfect, as these are two funny actors who usually makes me laugh unless it’s something like the underwhelming comedies of last year with Little and Stuber that wasted their respective talents. The back and forth they shared for its short runtime of 87 minutes kept the movie from falling apart. Even when some of their conversations in the first act is them arguing four years into their relationship, it still worked for them as an on-screen couple, and I can still they had a good time filming with each other. You’re rooting for these two to get through this unplanned evening without them possibly getting killed.
Did I laugh all the way through? Not at every joke, but I was surprised I did from its two leads. When they hit, those times I laughed were earned. I don’t know about anyone else, but the funniest scene that I was still laughing at moments after it over occurred in a Lyft Share that had me cracking up. I had to re-watch that scene again after it was over and two times while writing this.
Showalter’s direction wasn’t anything spectacular, and it’s drastically different for his follow-up. The times where it needed to throw in the action, it should’ve been a lot better, especially during the car chase that sets up this whole adventure right away. Screenwriters Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall Right goes along in taking that premise of people caught in a situation out of their league and getting caught in something crazy, and while we can note it as unbelievable, you’re able to let everything go by. There will be some that might say this is something similar to the like Game Night (really funny) or Date Night (like it more than others), which is reasonable. That isn’t to say this is better than the aforementioned titles, but there’s usually no harm in tackling this story again, even though it’s not the most original thing in the world, especially its forgettable villains.
Around the time we got to the third act, it started to lose some of its steam with most of the humor not getting to me when the few times they mentioned The Amazing Race, and the conclusion to that was predictable. Not every laugh was earned when it tried to go for some kind of over-the-top angle, so I wanted this to be funnier. One instance was when ad-libbing was probably involved, making the scene unfunny. And though not every comedy should be longer, it would’ve benefited more if got to see Jibran and Leilani’s professions as a documentarian and ad-agency exec just before everything hits the fan for the two of them. But that’s just me.
Would I recommend The Lovebirds? I say so. Even though it won’t be labeled as the funniest comedy to come out this year with a script that isn’t the best, you’ll easily get some enjoyment from Rae and Nanjiani’s chemistry with genuine laughs in between. Whenever you’re not busy and had the desire to check this out in the theater, it’s now available, so there’s no harm in watching this for yourself, or with your significant other.
Overall Grade: B-