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"THE LOVEBIRDS"
(2020) (Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: After witnessing a murder moments after realizing their romantic relationship is over, a couple tries to find the killer to avoid being charged with the crime.
PLOT:

Leilani (ISSA RAE) and Jibran (KUMAIL NANJIANI) have been dating for four years, but have just realized that the culmination of irritating behavior and differences of opinion means their relationship is over. A moment after figuring that out on their way to a party, a bicyclist darts into the path of their car and they accidentally strike him. But the blow from that doesn't kill him. Instead, that comes from an unnamed cop -- who they end up nicknaming Moustache (PAUL SPARKS) -- who commandeers their car and drives over the bicyclist several times. He nearly kills them too, but the sound of nearby police cars sends him running away.

When another couple sees Leilani and Jibran near the body, they assume that those two killed the man. Realizing no one would believe their story, Jibran and Leilani flee the scene and then understand that they must find the real killer in order to clear their names. With only the late bicyclist's cell phone that's now in their possession, they eventually meet a Congressman's wife, Edie (ANNA CAMP), hoping for answers. But like everything else that night, that meeting quickly goes sideways and Leilani and Jibran barely escape with their lives. While avoiding the police and the killer, they follow the scant clues they uncover in hopes of proving their innocence.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10

It's been said that going through life or death situations with a significant other can either make that bond stronger and more resilient or can be the equivalent of stretching a rubber band too far or inflating a balloon too much. Both scenarios certainly make sense.

After all, getting through such an ordeal can prove that each person has the other's back through and through, and thus they can survive anything together, especially what usually turn out to be minor inconveniences in comparison.

On the flip side, high-stress scenarios often bring out the fight or flight instinct, and if you don't fight for that special person or if you run off and leave them in your dust, that likely means you're only looking out for yourself and don't value your partner.

All of that comes into play in "The Lovebirds," the tale of Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) who -- after a brief prologue of their earlier, happier days -- have figured out that their four-year romance isn't heading anywhere, except, it appears, the relationship dumpster. Their differences in behavior, what appeals to them, and those little annoying things that seem cute in the early days but grow ever more tiresome and grating as the days, weeks, months, and years wear on have finally come to a head.

Thus, on their way to a dinner party, they come to the realization that it's over between them. But before that can sink in, a bicyclist diverts into their path and they accidentally strike him with their car. Despite being injured and bloodied, he gets up and rides away quickly and we soon learn why. A man (Paul Sparks) who claims to be a cop commandeers the couple's car -- with them still in it -- and gives chase. That ends with, let's just say the equivalent of driving over the same speed bump a few times.

With the killer fleeing, a passing couple quickly ascertains that Leilani and Jibran have killed the cyclist and with those two being minorities (she even points out his "terrorist beard") they realize the police probably won't buy their explanation. And thus they run off, setting into motion the rest of the 86 minute film from director Michael Showalter and writers Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall.

The "we need to find the killer to prove our innocence" isn't exactly a novel idea, the mix of comedy and lethal violence has been handled better in other films, the comedy itself never really evoked more than a chuckle or two from me, and I didn't really buy Rae and Nanjiani as a romantic couple (although they're perfectly fine as individual comedic characters).

The way things play out, they might have been more convincing as first, second, or third date material. Yes, I understand that defeats the purpose of the situation proving they actually are right for one another -- no spoiler alert there as there's zero doubt how things will play out -- but it might have been more convincing in that changed up scenario. And your appreciation of them - and the related comedy -- will likely depend heavily on your tolerance - or not - for characters who nervously chat too much in situations where they should keep their mouths shut all while behaving in sitcomy ways.

All of that said, I was entertained enough by what transpires -- especially when coupled with the short running time -- to give the flick a slight recommendation for those that don't mind the decidedly R-rated material. "The Lovebirds" rates as a 5.5 out of 10.




Reviewed May 19, 2020 / Posted May 22, 2020


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