“The Lovebirds” stars Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae, Anna Camp, Paul Sparks, Betsy Borrego, Kyle Bornheimer, Kelly Murtagh, and Moses Storm. Released on Netflix on May 22, 2020, the film is about a couple who gets caught in the middle of a murder mystery.
The film is directed by Michael Showalter, who also directed “The Baxter”, “Hello, My Name Is Doris”, and “The Big Sick”. Don’t you just hate it when you’re on a date with someone you really liked and then all of a sudden, you witnessed a murder? It sucks, doesn’t it? This weekend sees yet another theatrical film that’s going straight to our homes due to the pandemic. The film was originally set to arrive in theaters last month, but since the cinemas are still closed, it wound up being delayed like the other potential theatrical films that were scheduled for this year. Some time later, Netflix bought the distribution rights from Paramount and had it release on the streaming service. This is a nice change of pace in my eyes because so far, I paid at least 40 dollars to review two movies that went straight to premium video-on-demand due to the coronavirus, and yes, two of them were animated kids movies. Not that I didn’t mind, of course, but since I’m out of the job temporarily, I have to save my money for important stuff like food and toilet paper. This is also the latest film from “Wet Hot American Summer” co-creator Michael Showalter, who has been impressing me so far with his last two romantic comedies, with one of them being one of my favorite films of 2017, despite not being a huge fan of the romance genre. The marketing made it look like another ordinary R-rated comedy compared to Showalter’s down-to-earth rom-coms that were released a couple of years ago, but is it a good ordinary R-rated comedy? Let's find out.
The story follows Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Rae), two people who are going through a rough patch in their relationship. Their trip to a friend’s dinner party suddenly went off the rails when they witness a murder right in front of their eyes and are falsely accused of the crime. Forced to go on the run, Jibran and Leilani must survive every single circumstance known to man in order to find the real suspect, clear their names, and save their relationship. “The Lovebirds” offers a different flavor to Showalter’s rom-com scenario as it threw in a murder mystery aspect and a few extra doses of R-rated jokes into a romance story that involves a broken relationship. Combining those elements together can either make the film amusing or make it into a complete mess depending on the viewer’s expectations. Personally, I was expecting it to be a fun and hilarious comedy because the last two comedies we got on Netflix didn’t exactly meet my expectations. Actually, it’s more along the lines of filling my heart with sadness instead of joy. After viewing it for myself at the comfort of my own home, I was relieved that it didn’t wind up being as irritating as the likes of “Coffee & Kareem”. Its straightforward plot does result in the film being a step down from Showalter’s last two films, but the film was able to compensate by delivering a nice little diversion that has its share of laughs and charms. The major part that holds this film together is the chemistry between Nanjiani and Rae. Whether they’re arguing with one another or trying to solve a murder mystery together, these two actors brought a considerable amount of life into their performances, which helped lift the film through its noticeable shortcomings and made its effortless storytelling a bit more enjoyable to watch. Not only that, but they also made me care about their respective characters and their troubling relationship. Nanjiani is just as entertaining as ever as Jibran. As for Issa Rae, let’s just say that I’m glad that she found something that works well for her talent. Going back to the combination of the film’s elements, it did seem that Showalter wanted to make a fun R-rated rom-com mystery without relying on an overabundance of adult-oriented jokes and offensive gags to get some laughs. While this strategy wasn’t 100% perfect on screen, I have to give Showalter credit for attempting to make this type of balance work. The film’s humor was also quite enjoyable despite it not being as raunchy as the humor in “The Wrong Missy”. It had several humorous moments that worked for me in terms of the dialogue, along with a couple of scenes that made me laugh out loud. There were a couple of humor-related scenes that dragged on a bit too long, but other than that, it’s a solid improvement over the last two Netflix comedies I’ve seen this year.
Overall, “The Lovebirds” falls short of being the best comedy of 2020, but it’s an entertaining and charming comedy regardless. Even though it didn’t reach the same heights as the other well-received rom-coms, especially “The Big Sick”, the film’s respectable blend of adult comedy, romance, and mystery has enough merits, most notably the chemistry between the two leads, to make it a worthy addition to Netflix’s collection of original films. If you’re a fan of the two main actors, then I can assure you that you will like them in this film, whether the final result is good in your eyes or not. If you’re looking for a decent comedy that’s not too raunchy, but has plenty of amusing moments, I would say that this one should suit you well.