Kumail Nanjiani as Jibran
Issa Rae as Leilani
Kyle Bornheimer as Brett
Kelly Murtagh as Evonne
Moses Storm as Steve
Directed by Michael Showalter
Written by Aaron Abrams, Brendan Gall, Martin Gero (Story by)
The Lovebirds Review:
Director Michael Showalter and Kumail Nanjiani blew audiences away with their first partnership in 2017’s semi-autobiographical The Big Sick and now they’re looking to recapture that spark with an action movie twist in this year’s The Lovebirds and bringing in the brilliant Issa Rae, creator, and star of Insecure, for the ride and while it may not be the best of either of their repertoires, it’s definitely a damn good time that utilizes their comedic gifts for the better.
A couple (Rae & Nanjiani) experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery. As their journey to clear their names takes them from one extreme – and hilarious – circumstance to the next, they must figure out how they, and their relationship, can survive the night.
Writers Brendan Gall and Aaron Abrams, who have worked together for nearly a decade, have crafted some truly believable characters in their script and a heartbreaking devolving relationship that many audiences can easily connect to, something that starts out beautiful that eventually blows up. Part of the problem in tapping into this reality is that we as viewers are treated to the awkward morning after the first date and second date in which life is put on the back burner and then flown forward to four years later as the two are ready to split, not being treated to the in-between time showing this devolution.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with putting viewers in right at the end and having the couple occasionally reflect back on the good times, but the problem is when the script and stars help audiences connect to the characters and root for love to conquer all in the end, it makes it hard to suspend the disbelief that they won’t forgive each other and stay together before the credits roll. If we’re offered a better look at the slow crumbling of the relationship or even just a handful events that contribute to it, we can actually sit back and wonder if once they’ve made it out of the life-threatening events they will try and resolve their relationship problems out of love for each other, but instead this rushed setup (despite its 86-minute runtime) makes the film as a whole feel too predictable.
This aside, the film’s danger element as a whole feels a little too familiar to other fishes-out-of-water comedies, namely the Steve Carell and Tina Fey-starring Date Night, even if the couple in said 2010 film are looking to keep their marriage alive and the action is a little more explosive than in this. However, the series of events Rae’s Leilani and Nanjiani’s Jibran find themselves in the midst of does generally prove to be funny enough to overshadow some of their unoriginality.
Speaking of the acclaimed comics, their chemistry is a thing of beauty in this film, as whether they are throwing jabs at one another or teaming up to throw jabs at something else, we find ourselves loving every second of it. Even if not in a romantic comedy, chemistry between leads is important for drawing viewers in and helping them chuckle even at the worst of jokes and Nanjiani and Rae shine brightly together, creating everything from gut-busting laughs to warm smiles. Their crazed energies match each other perfectly when it comes to their action scenes in a much more interesting and entertaining fashion than Nanjiani’s last attempt at a duo comedy 2019’s Stuber, in which he and Dave Bautista, despite having funny moments, just never quite found their rhythm together.
The Lovebirds may not be the most original effort in the action or romantic comedy genres, but thanks to the stellar chemistry between its leads and some outrageously hysterical moments, the film shines brighter than most other efforts and begs for these two to grace the screen together more often.