Romantic comedy is not a genre towards which I gravitate. It’s not so much because the films are often formulaic and predictable; rather, they usually have absolutely nothing to offer when they’re mediocre. In contrast, a mediocre and formulaic sci-fi film can at the very least offer interesting concepts, production design, or action, but I digress. Enter, The Lovebirds.
Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) – a couple who have lost their romantic spark – are suddenly thrust into a situation in which they may be accused of a murder they didn’t commit. The premise is beautiful in its simplicity, and rife with opportunities for solid comedy and heart-warming character moments, and it delivers on all those fronts. While I expected to, at the very least, enjoy the film based on the trailer, there were multiple moments of surprisingly genuine laugh-out-loud hilarity that have become etched in my mind (and may or may not have prompted a brief rewind from me upon initial viewing).
The consistent humour is supported by the leads’ relationship and the stage that it’s in, providing a propelling through line for the film. Both believably and efficiently introduced, it is portrayed with excellent chemistry between Nanjiani and Rae. In fact, the exploration of their relationship could be seen as the A-plot, whereas the murder mystery is just the B-plot that serves as a vehicle for the A-plot to transpire in an entertaining and engaging way.
That being said, the murder mystery is the film’s major weak link. Neither developed enough to be engaging, nor given enough dedicated screen time, it lacks a much needed sense of urgency, resulting in a film that is ultimately disposable. This is likely due to the very brisk runtime (87 minutes, including credits) which, in fairness, ensures the film doesn’t overstay its welcome and keeps a consistently snappy pace. Ultimately, that was the right call for this type of film, but a few additional scenes may have added a bit more weight to the narrative. Additionally, while the comedic elements are a major win overall, some jokes/lines drag for a tad too long, with most, if not all of them, coming across as sudden and somewhat weak improvisation.
The Lovebirds is an enjoyable, undemanding and entertaining watch. Its short length and availability on Netflix (as opposed to its initially scheduled theatrical release before being sold by Paramount) make it much easier for me to recommend, and I can absolutely see myself re-watching it on a rainy day. Despite falling into the usual rom-com predictability trappings, the surprisingly fun humour paired with the performances, chemistry and the relationship of its central leads, make The Lovebirds more than deserving of your time.
Image: Charles J Sharp via Wkimedia Commons