I’m disappointed that I wasn’t more in love with it.
Ever since movies started getting pulled from theatres and being given release dates that are TBD, I’ve honestly found it difficult to get excited for a new release. When or if a movie is released is up in the air, and if it is released on schedule, it goes to on demand which I’m not a fan of. Let’s just say I was not thrilled at the price I had to pay to rent Scoob! (2020). By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. The exception to this frustration is The Lovebirds (2020), a movie that made the switch from theatrical release to Netflix debut pretty early on. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, mainly because I LOVE Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani! That’s why I’m bummed that while I enjoyed The Lovebirds, it wasn’t as fantastic as I’d have hoped.
The Lovebirds follows Jibran and Leilani, a couple once deeply in love but four years into their relationship, are now constantly fighting. When they accidentally witness a murder and get mistaken for the killers, the pair go on the run and do everything they can to clear their names and catch the real murderer.
There are two reasons why I was so excited to see this movie. First, the inspired pairing of Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani. Believe me, we’ll talk about how much I love them in a minute. Secondly, the premise has a strong Date Night (2010) vibe which is a huge plus for me because that’s legit one of my favourite comedies. So, the idea of seeing a similar action-filled romantic-comedy starring two of my favourite funny people had me so pumped for this movie! Unfortunately, though The Lovebirds has many strong points that are reminiscent of Date Night, it’s not as inherently enjoyable.
The movie hits the ground running with a lot of comedic potential. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Rae and Nanjiani get into all kinds of ridiculous trouble? The problem, unfortunately, is that every wild, zany obstacle Jibran and Leilani face in the race to clear their names is met with surprisingly low-energy. Nothing plays out as over the top as it could be, and scenes that could have been memorably hilarious, feel decidedly ho-hum. I think the pacing is to blame. The movie rushes through anything exciting or intriguing, and takes forever to get through scenes that should only last a minute, tops. What makes Date Night so great is that it’s an active story that constantly keeps you on your toes, constantly keeps you laughing, and still has time for a romance to be explored. In comparison, The Lovebirds is slow-moving and lacklustre. Truly, I don’t mean to keep comparing the two, but really, The Lovebirds is the 2020 version of Date Night.
Speaking of Date Night (because I’m apparently incapable of shutting up about it) Rae and Nanjiani are as well-matched for each other as Steve Carell and Tina Fey were. I absolutely adore these two. Rae and Nanjiani are stunningly beautiful, extremely hilarious, charming as Hell actors. Also, they starred in two of last year’s most underrated comedies respectively: Little (2019) and Stuber (2019). By the way, check out my reviews for those movies, here and here. As expected, Rae and Nanjiani are magic together. They’re in perfect harmony, and are equally fantastic whether it comes to being the punchline, or delivering it. Their chemistry is red-hot and throughout the entire movie I was like, “they’re so freaking cute together, I NEED them to get back together!” I love these two. I would be content to watch them watch someone else read the phone book.
Rae and Nanjiani are undoubtedly talented, but believe it or not, it’s their talent that betrays them. The movie loves to put Jibran and Leilani in stressful situations where they’re pleading for their lives or trying to explain something and each time, the director lets them improv much as they want. Normally I wouldn’t be mad at that, but when they’re both riffing at the same time, talking over each other, what should be a really funny scene comes out feeling cramped and incoherent. Rae and Nanjiani are both such strong performers that they deserve their own separate time to shine. Making them talk over each other is bizarre and counterproductive to all the goodwill The Lovebirds earns.
All the pieces are there to make The Lovebirds a wonderful movie, but it never seems to figure out how to put them together. As Jibran and Leilani work to clear their names, they stumble onto an even bigger series of murder and blackmail. It’s entertaining to watch them dig themselves into a deeper hole, but it’s a part of the story that needed a lot more clarity. 10 minutes from the closing credits, I STILL wasn’t sure as to exactly what was going on. If not for heavy exposition from a side character, I never would have figured it out. The lack of clarity isn’t helped by the fact that everything is spoken in the quietest voices I’ve ever heard on film. Seriously you guys, this movie is so damn quiet. Make sure you watch it with the volume set extra high because dialogue is either whispered or mumbled in almost every scene. Whoa, I’m having a sudden revelation. I would have been fine if the movie had left out the crime element and just been a straight-up rom-com. The Lovebirds is at its absolute best when Rae and Nanjiani are cracking jokes about their relationship or adorably falling in love anyway.
I’m pretty bummed I didn’t love this movie as much as I thought I would. It’s still leaps and bounds above any other Netflix original movie that’s come out in the last three months, and perfectly entertaining for a movie night with popcorn and wine. I guess I just wanted it to be more mind-blowingly amazing. That being said, I still remain an extraordinary fan of Rae and Nanjiani, and will see any and all movies they do separately or together in the future. Seriously Hollywood, put these two in as many movies together as possible!
Have you seen The Lovebirds? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!