When the national release of a movie coincides with the tragic shutdown of theaters nationwide, distributors were given one of two options: either delay the release to some later date, hoping theaters will be open then, or find another option to release your film to audiences. “Trolls 2: World Tour” went direct to TV, offering pay-per-view showings to dramatic success. “The Lovebirds,” starring Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick” and “Stuber”) and Issa Rae (HBO’s “Insecure” & “Little”) as the lead couple, opted instead to strike a release deal with Netflix. That decision to go straight to Netflix is perfect for the film, as its cute story and just-a-little-bit grown-up sense of humor is perfect laundry folding fare — easy to put on the television while doing chores so as to not miss out on anything important.
After more than four years of being together, New Orleans couple Jibran and Leilani are just about ready to throw in the towel. In the middle of a heated argument on a drive to a friend’s dinner party, their distraction leads to an accidental collision with a man on a bicycle. When a police officer takes control of their vehicle in order to track down the bicyclist, the couple’s afternoon plans quickly spiral out of control. Finding themselves unintentionally in the center of an unbelievable murder mystery, Jibran and Leilani must put up with each other long enough to solve the mystery, clear their names, and survive the night.
While Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae have fantastic chemistry, with the two actors’ comedic timings bouncing off one another, making their portrayal as a strained, long-term couple, the film itself seems to flounder around them at moments. Beginning with a fun and lightweight action-comedy premise, “The Lovebirds,” like so many before it, loses steam as it tries to fill in the time. While Kumail and Issa’s comedic skill powers above much of its shakier scenes, the synthetically-plotted nature of the movie weighs the two down, keeping them from having any particularly memorable or standout moments. Making all to much sense for premiering on Netflix over movie theaters, “The Lovebirds” has quite a few laughs, but they ring just a little hollow.
As the type of movie perfect for watching in the background without any expectations, it serves as a perfect addition to Netflix’s increasing roster of original films. With more than a few funny moments thanks to Issa and Kumail’s impeccable comedic timing, you can’t help but want to see them paired together in a better written film. With their deadpan humor fitting the darker nature of the film, it is no understatement to say they truly make “The Lovebirds” brightest moments. Though “The Lovebirds” may not be worth the price of a movie ticket, it is a surely enjoyable at-home watch nonetheless.
Rose Dunton, originally of Nampa, has been living in Pocatello for the past five years. Proficient in Japanese, she is an avid film buff.