The Lovebirds Review: Rae and Ninjiani make The Lovebirds serviceable, but it’s really just okay
Although it got knocked out of a theater release due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Paramount’s new comedy, The Lovebirds, has found new life on Netflix.
The film follows Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Ninjiani) – a couple that was wildly in love when they started, but have recently had some rocky moments. They are far past the honeymoon phase and are finding themselves questioning their relationship and are on the brink of breaking-up. On a very bad day where they’re arguing and their relationship is at its rope’s end, the two hit a bicyclist by mistake and end up becoming involved in a murder when a stranger uses their car to flatten the fleeing bicyclist. Worried that they’re going to be framed, Leilani and Jibran end up ensnared in strange scenarios all over New Orleans full of murder and mystery.
Frankly, I’ve never seen a film put so much weight on its leading characters’ shoulders like The Lovebirds does with Rae and Ninjiani, but it’s impressive to see them never buckle. These two come to this film with a very similar comedic style and approach that works in their favor as they play a bickering couple. A good amount of their spats at each other are really funny because of how they slowly bring out their genuine issues with each other and real feelings. Often times, they’ll even act as sort of a peanut gallery to what they’re seeing, like when they discover a strange cult of sorts at one point, and it’s honestly just funny to see them commentate on all of the strange nonsense they come across. Honestly, it’s almost as if they’re improving certain moments as most of the time the two are forced to be on the spot and make rash decisions in the moment – which leads to some solid bits. There’s even a moment between them and a police officer in an interrogation room that had me laughing and its because these two are really making everything they’re given work.
They also make the film’s central rocky relationship pretty believable as they balance this sense of love and frustration that both characters are feeling toward one another. Even when they bicker and are ready to tear each other’s heads off, you can tell that they still have feelings for each other. It’s the kind of rockiness that creates ups and downs throughout their one-night adventure and the realizations about their own issues are kind of interesting at times. From how they’re friends view their relationship to how they view other people’s relationships, it’s kind of nice to see the environment and other people’s views play a part in their relationship. Not to mention, Rae and Ninjiani make everything come off genuine, so viewers will easily find themselves connecting to them.
Unfortunately, there’s really not all that much to talk about with The Lovebirds because the rest of is either incredibly uneventful or just okay. There’s nothing all that enticing or mysterious about the plot and the adventure isn’t all that interesting. There’re no other characters or side-characters that make an impression and it, at times, makes having only Leilani and Jibran kind of tiresome because you see so much of them. The film can even be kind of boring when you realize that they’re just going from place to place and there’s a whole joke about The Amazing Race that feels outdated since I do watch that and Survivor and they hit their mainstream peak long while ago. Frankly, even now only having watched the film the night before writing this, it’s already kind of starting to fade out of my mind and it just doesn’t his the memorable comedic or filmmaking marks that other recent comedies, like Game Night and Booksmart, have, so it’s almost too easy to see this film in a lower light.
Personally, I’m kind of happy that The Lovebirds made its way to Netflix instead of theaters because if it did, I get the feeling that I’d be much more disappointed in it than I already am. Rae and Ninjiani make it a perfectly serviceable comedy, but it lacks literally anything else to make it a step above and it’s the kind of okay movie you watch only for it to quickly fade from memory.