The Stream: Another couple on a crazy night out flick..
The Big Screen: Great chemistry between Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani.
The Final Bill: An easy, fast-paced romp that’s good for fun night in.-Trip Fontaine
Director: Michael Showalter
Writers: Aaron Abrams (story by), Brendan Gall (story by) | 3 more credits »
Stars: Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, Paul Sparks | See full cast & crew »
Runtime: 1 hour 26 minutes
There is a typical comedy that seems to come out every summer that involves a couple in a rut, a strange turn of events, and its all resolved over the course of a crazy night out. Steve Carrell and Tina Fey romped through it as a boring married couple in Date Night. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams joked about in it as a buttoned-up couple in Game Night. Now, we have Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani in the Netflix premiere of The Lovebirds trading barbs as a couple at the end of their rope on this fateful night. If you have seen one of these movies, then you have seen them all; in these action/crime/romance comedies the entertainment value, chemistry of the leads and the humor determine whether they are worth the time. Let’s see how The Lovebirds fares.
For The Lovebirds, the premise is pretty basic and set forth in the trailer. Rae and Nanjiani play a bickering couple who have run out of patience for each other and have lost the excitement in their relationship. On one evening out in New Orleans, a policeman commandeers their vehicle and proceeds to murder a cyclist. Was that a real policeman? Is this couple now accomplices in this crime? Are they in danger and how do they prove they aren’t the criminals? Hijinks ensue.
The Lovebirds is directed by comedy vet, Michael Showalter, who previously directed Nanjiani in The Big Sick, which is a more thoughtful comedy available on Amazon Prime. It is a face paced movie. The catalyst event happens in the first 10 minutes, but from there, it does get a bit episodic but it moves at a good clip. As the couple follows the clues to the next set piece, the comedy doesn’t really ratchet up anything. We meet new characters and there a few surprises near the end, but those characters aren’t very memorable as they are just breadcrumbs along the way. The movie needs more tension or a heightening of reality because otherwise it doesn’t set itself apart for any others in this genre.
The chemistry between Rae and Nanjiani is good though. Each plays a modern archetype. Rae is the image obsessed woman who works at a marketing firm and her boyfriend isn’t exciting enough for her. Nanjiani is the straight-laced, documentary filmmaker who’s jealousy bubbles just beneath the surface. There is a meet-cute between Rae and Nanjiani early on that doesn’t really show why they are in this relationship, but the back-and-forth between the two works and is funny throughout the film. Without these two, this film would have been boring noise just to play in the background. I can’t say that the film itself is funny, but the leads do their best to make the most of it.
Ultimately, if this movie were in the theaters, I would say wait until it is on some streaming service. In our current climate, since The Lovebirds has premiered on Netflix, it is a decent film to watch on a casual night at home. Grab a handful of popcorn. Curl up with your boo and see if you would make it through this hellacious night unscathed. Besides it is less than 90 minutes, you have that time – I know you do.
P.S. – There is a running “Amazing Race” joke that really resonated with me since I am currently binging old seasons of that reality show.