The Lovebirds, directed by The Big Sick‘s Michael Showalter, proves just what star power can do.
After what was supposed to be a one-night fling, Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Rae) attempt and stop working to leave each other’s company; the central couple have an undeniable connection. Leilani’s attachment to social media and need for spontaneity annoy Jibran, whose inability to make choices and complete his documentary irritate Leilani in turn.
The mission to show their innocence– and stay alive, as they’re pursued by both the cops and the lawbreakers actually responsible for the assassination– drives the action, but the draw of The Lovebirds isn’t murder mystery intrigue so much as just viewing Nanjiani and Rae be amusing in each others’ basic vicinity.
The plot, which takes Leilani and Jibran into the depths of a Eyes Wide Shut– esque cult, total with masks and orgies, is thin. There aren’t really other characters so much as excuses to toss the lovebirds into progressively odd scenarios as they attempt to determine what’s going on. Of the supporting cast, Paul Sparks stands apart as a corrupt police, had fun with a sort of flat, casual threat reminiscent of Michael Shannon. A quick reference of some unsolved romantic injury in his past, which would be abundant to mine in a movie about fixing a relationship, is left untapped.
That puts even more weight on Nanjiani and Rae’s chemistry to keep things compelling.
The script, by Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall, excels in banter. At one point, the exes jab each other to such a rapid degree that their bickering triggers a criminal to complain that they seem like his parents. The only pity is that their back-and-forth, because it’s a motor for the remainder of the film, never ever gets time to rest. The defects that Leilani and Jibran must learn to correct or jeopardize on are all relatively surface-level, and the possibility to more deeply explore a deteriorating relationship and the troubles intrinsic in being with someone are secondary to creating laughs. The quick interludes in which the characters understand simply how crazy things are getting do not last enough time.
However The Lovebirds delivers where it matters: The jokes are funny and manifold, and Nanjiani and Rae are an undoubtedly enticing set. Abrams and Gall’s script is funnier than the Netflix initial romcoms that have tried for something comparable ( Murder Secret, Ibiza), and the film’s coda, though perhaps a little groan-worthy, puts a cool cap on one of the film’s running gags.
The Lovebirds is streaming on Netflix now.
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