Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani are both national treasures, HBO series alums and very funny people—but knowing that makes the wildly unfunny new film from Michael Showalter (The State, Wet Hot American Summer) all the more disappointing.
Rae and Nanjiani are Leilani and Jibran, a couple nearly half a decade into a stalling relationship. She wants spontaneity, he wants…I dunno, for her to be more careful about spouting facts (it's dumb). Together, they wind up hitting some dude with their car in the middle of their breakup and then they witness his murder at the hands of some mysterious baddie. This kicks off a series of events that should be familiar to anyone who saw 2010's also not-that-good Date Night with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey and/or Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (though The Lovebirds' lampooning of the latter film is neither topical nor sensical nor funny)—and it's pretty much boring from then on out.
Convinced they'll be accused of a crime they didn't commit, the pair sets out to solve the crime on their own, never knowing the police don't actually blame them. They wind up at weird cult orgies, interrogating frat boys, making semi-humorous observations about the world around them and bringing up plot points that never get resolved. Even worse, the film -approaches themes of institutional racism only to back off before its points land, leaving pretty much no thing outside of the opportunity for film critics to note how similar The Lovebirds feels to Nanjiani's last film, Stuber (about a neurotic guy who gets swept up in crime stuff and says "funny" things).
Flashes of chemistry make way for half-baked physical comedy routines that simply aren't that funny and, despite a running time under 90 minutes, the story grows stale before it concludes with something about how bad relationships might just need the jumpstart of crime.
It's honestly pretty lucky this movie hit Netflix amid the pandemic as opposed to its planned theatrical release. This way people might -actually see it when they're done with Avatar: The Last Airbender.
+These actors are great despite the bad material
-It's just plain pretty bad
Directed by Showalter
With Rae and Nanjiani
Netflix, R, 86 min.