Another casualty of the lockdown led the new rom-com from Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae to get snatched up by Netflix, and it doesn’t take long to realise that this was the best place for it. The Lovebirds, like its leading couple, kick things off well enough, with these two star-crossed sweethearts falling for each other the first morning after the night before, and it’s clear that there’s chemistry between Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Rae). Flash forward four years later though, and those sparks have sadly faded, leading the two to agree that parting ways might be the best way to go. Their break up gets even more awkward though when they find themselves caught up in a hit and run/murder that sends them on the run trying to find a way to clear their names.
So begins a wild night where a couple on the rocks get up to no good. Picking pieces from the likes of Date Night and Game Night (the latter has yet to give up the top spot) The Lovebirds sees our couple forced into torture of an equine variety and interrogating a frat bro for information. Both are easily the film’s stand out moments, giving Rae and Nanjiani the chance to fire off one another. As a double act, they work brilliantly together, having a significant blowout about nothing and then getting into sharp-tongued spats as the night goes on. The issue is that the film around them can’t get up to their speed and is keeping them far too restrained for this wild evening.
Comedy nights out, while propelled by a winning pair, often have an array of colourful side characters to help keep us going ’til dawn, but steal the show if the opportunity presents itself. The disappointing factor with The Lovebirds is that there simply aren’t any of merit here when there absolutely should be. After the not-so-happy couple gets kidnapped during their antics, Jibran ends up taking one for the team, with Pitch Perfect‘s Anna Camp and Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Kyle Bornheimer are the ones dishing it out. Both talents in their own right but are used in what feels the same amount of time it took to write this sentence.
Even with the film being a little light on laughs, with a lot of it being due to the limited numbers involved, The Lovebirds surprises the most by shining a spotlight on that awkward phase of a post-breakup period. There’s a sincere broken heart to heart where both accept what’s happened and say things that took too long to come to light. It’s a surprising spot where both Nanjiani and Rae’s rapport helps sensitive moments land just right, nailing the ‘rom’ part, but leaving the ‘com’ part to suffer in the end.