May 21, 2020

SCREEN | Issa Rae Runs from 'The Lovebirds' on Netflix

Issa Rae Kumail Nanjiani Michael Showalter | The Lovebirds Netflix
Paramount Pictures / MRC
Comedians Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae star as lovers stuck in a rut after years together as a couple in a romantic comedy with a one crazy night buddy action movie twist. The Lovebirds chugs along through the actors' natural sense of chemistry that establishes their relationship history rising above a so-so script.

Nanjiani reteams with his The Big Sick director Michael Showalter for something different and more conventional resembling mid-budget studio fare (think Date Night or Game Night).

The premise is quickly set up in a case of mistaken identity, murder, and blackmail as our lead characters, Jibran and Leilani, are framed for a hit-and-run vehicular homicide by a random stranger posing as a cop (a very menacing Paul Sparks) before they try to comically solve the conspiracy behind the criminal events they unintentionally stumble into themselves.

Scripted by Canadian actors Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall, The Lovebirds feels just so very standard and plotted almost algorithmically starring likeable leads who are never able to overcome the constant mechanics of the mystery plot while taking breaks to establish the rom-com story beats of their fragile relationship.

Rae and Nanjiani elevate the by-the-numbers action/comedy material. However, Showalter's direction never quite balances the life and death stakes with the more natural comedic tone of the film's performances. Thankfully, the pair's chemistry is so winning, it establishes enough goodwill to make it enjoyable to ride along with.

The Lovebirds is available to stream on Netflix.

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