22nd May 2020 (Netflix Premiere)
A couple (Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani) experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery.
Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, Paul Sparks
Relationship breakups are hard enough as it is, but being forced to remain together while on the run for a murder you didn’t commit is worse. That’s the dilemma facing Jibran and Leilani in Michael Showalter’s breezy and familiar The Lovebirds, now streaming on Netflix.
After one argument too many while driving to a dinner party, the quarrelling couple decide it’s time to call it quits on the relationship. Mere seconds after sealing the deal, Jibran inadvertently runs over a cyclist. Save for a few scrapes, the victim quickly gets back up on his bike and rides away. Still stunned, another man claiming to be the police takes control of their car with them still as passengers. They pursue the alleged criminal – only for the imposter officer repeatedly drives over the already injured man. The killer scarpers, leaving the recently separated couple looking like the culprits. Together, they must clear their name, find the man who did it and figure out why he wanted the cyclist killed.
From my synopsis, The Lovebirds sounds like heavy going. It’s quite the opposite. Michael Showalter’s romantic comedy/murder mystery is more in line with the likes of the Steve Carrell and Tina Fey caper Date Night and 2018’s better-than-expected Jason Bateman yarn Game Night than the action-packed The Fugitive.
Its opening depiction of the flourishing stages of a relationship feel natural in its awkwardness. A quick jump forward four years and the relationship has crumbled to the point of hilarious quarrelling over the smallest of things. It’s these opening 20 minutes which provide the best and moments and funniest lines of The Lovebirds, a film which deteriorates into a generic genre entry the longer it goes on.
The leads remain inherently entertaining and their connection is one you’ll easily root for. I never felt it was a romantic relationship though, more of a platonic ‘I love you like a friend’ bond. It really is a shame that the film gets so bogged down in its meandering murder mystery plot and doesn’t fully capitalise on the charm that these two provide when given the chance to shine.
Simply put, The Lovebirds is a check-box type of romantic comedy and for the most part earns its ticks. At a brisk 86 minutes too it never feels like a chore. It features two fantastic performances from its title role players and its script provides enough comedy to keep a consistent smile going and even the occasional chortle.
The Lovebirds is now streaming on Netflix
Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae are a joy to watch together
Opening 20 minutes far outweigh the rest of the film
Quickly deteriorates into typical genre fodder
Disappointing resolution to murder mystery side of things