Sparks Fly in 'The Lovebirds' Thanks to Comedy Magic from Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae Directed by Michael Showalter

Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae, Paul Sparks, Mahdi Cocci
Sparks Fly in 'The Lovebirds' Thanks to Comedy Magic from Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae Directed by Michael Showalter
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The Lovebirds belongs to a micro-genre of comedies in which a romance spirals into an action-mystery over a case of mistaken identity. And, much like similar films Murder Mystery and Game Night, Michael Showalter's The Lovebirds makes the most of its fluffy concept thanks to surprisingly decent action sequences and excellent comedic performances from its leads.

The Lovebirds begins as an adorable rom-com, as we witness the first blossoms of new love between Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani, reuniting with Showalter after 2017's excellent The Big Sick). But that only lasts a couple of minutes and then we're thrust forward four years: now living together, they're a bickering couple on their last legs. Unlike their earlier passion, they now clash over whether their lovemaking should be planned or spontaneous, and Jibran lands some genuinely observant punchlines about how swingers probably organize their orgies with a Google Calendar.

They break up on their way to a dinner party, and that's where the action starts: they run over a pedestrian, get car-jacked, and end up becoming implicated in a murder. Faced with the possibility of being wrongfully accused, they become vigilantes and attempt to piece together clues in order to solve the crime themselves.

It's a fairly boilerplate premise as far as action-comedies go — it's basically Stuber as a love story — but it does the trick. From an Eyes Wide Shut-style secret society gathering to a frat party soundtracked by "Semi-Charmed Life," there's a predictability to the plot that's familiar without being totally tired.

Nanjiani (who looks awfully rugged, presumably thanks to his Marvel makeover) and Rae are perfectly deadpan as a well-meaning couple in way over their heads. Nanjiani is particularly hilarious as a timid straight man, while Rae brings heartfelt emotion to what could otherwise be purely slapstick romp. Their brush with the criminal underworld forces them to bond together, and watching them reconnect over the course of the film is a genuinely sweet love story.

With a runtime of under 90 minutes and only two characters that are remotely fleshed out, The Lovebirds sets its ambitions fairly low. Their romance might not be perfect, but The Lovebirds proves that Jibran and Leilani are good together. (Netflix)