During times when romantic comedies are less and less common in theaters, it’s a bit sad to see one of the rare ones having to skip that release tactic completely due to unforeseen difficulties. The Lovebirds is on one hand very much tied to the genre but on another, the casting of its leads (Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani) is fresh. This romcom eventually found its way to Netflix which is lacking this level of talent and production in its originals so maybe something good came out of it after all. Where as the story might be a bit too silly and uninspired, the movie gets up to speed thanks to lovely performances and direction.
Rae and Nanjiani as Leilani and Jibran, respectively, are ultimately the reason to stay with it. In the first scene we see the characters seeing each other for the first time and then we skip to few years later when they have conflicts and bickering going on. Usually the expectation is follow the happiness for a while until a conflict arises so it’s nice to see that structure shaken up a bit. Rae and Nanjiani have good comedic chemistry between them which makes up for the less romantic vibes, their characters get to riff off of each other which is quite fun to watch. Casting them both in this along with some strong supporting cast members was a wise decision.
The story itself is fairly sugarcoated to the point that it doesn’t really pick a good ending spot where it all would wrap up nicely. There’s a bad guy who’s efficient and silent until the plot requires him not to be and there’s a secret society which seems threatening but isn’t all that important later. For Leilani and Jibran it picks some small spots for relationship evaluation but not enough for where they ultimately end up. The film seems to get a little too distracted with locations and side quests (which I guess ties into a boring spoof about The Amazing Race) that it slightly forgets that we started with just two people who worked off each other really well.
Smileys: Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, casting
Frowneys: Story, ending
Under 90 minutes thankfully, any more would’ve been stretching it too thin.