The Lovebirds; The HBO Powerhouse Comedic Duo Worked Romantically, But Fall Flat on Comedy. Grade: C
The Lovebirds tells a story about a couple named Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) whom started off hot at first, but years have gone by as things headed south in their relationship. While heading to a friends party, Jibran accidentally runs over a biker, whom clearly is in fear from some other direction. The couple is introduced to a so called “Cop” moments later, as the man chases the biker with Jibran’s car. The man doesn’t appear to be a cop, as he kills the civilian as he then fled the scene of the crime. As Leilani and Jibran was shocked at what has happened, as struggling to figure out what to do... Another couple approaches the scene of the crime, as they believe it was them. Now Leilani and Jibran are on the run, trying to solve the case.
The Cinematography was mediocre. I thought that intense car chase scene involving the biker in the beginning, was extremely poorly shot. I couldn’t make of what was happening at all. Though the aspect ratio does become more clearer later on, for the beginning it honestly looked pretty unnatural. This why I believe theaters are essential when it comes to films: Aspect ratio. Who knows maybe that car chase scene or the beginning of the film would’ve looked better on the big screen, as it would’ve correlate with the proper aspect ratio of the film than a television screen. The Score was pretty forgettable, I really don’t remember a single remorseful tune in this entire film. Let’s talk about the Firework scene... We’ve seen that done before, why bring it back? The cast all in all was fine. Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani are pretty cool on scene, they both have solid chemistry together. This may be a surprise, but I felt they performed better in the dramatic side of this film, over the comedic side of this film.
When it comes to watching this couple’s road coming to an end, as they are reestablishing their worth as a couple through these whacky events... I thought that was way more appealing, than the comedy aspect of this film. Though Kumail and Issa deliver a few chuckles, as no laugh out moments were delivered... At least I was invested in their characters, as clearly as written the arcs speak more volumes than the comedy itself. I found Paul Sparks playing the corrupt cop was fine, character wise it remains more of an open book, as you’re left with more questions than answers.
The Lovebirds was supposed to be in theaters back in April... Quarantining scared it away, to resulting in a straight to Netflix route. So here we are with two questions at hand. If released theatrically, would this film made any money? Tough call honestly. Let’s compare to another Kumail comedy of last year Stuber. Stuber had a 16 million dollar budget, the film went on to make double the profit. Could I see The Lovebirds making more, about the same, or less?! I think a tad more. I think Issa Rae is way more appealing than Dave Bautista as a lead. Plus the film would’ve attract audiences of color, couples, and certainly fans of this HBO television powerhouse comedy duo... So I would’ve waited, but surely they’ll make it back due to the budget being about the same. Are we glad this was dumped on streaming than being in theaters?! As far as my reception of this film: Sure.
What kills The Lovebirds for me is the comedy style of this film... It’s nothing special. I can honestly say Stuber has the upper hand when it comes to comedy, due to the fact I remember having a laugh out moment. This film has no laugh out moments, sure a few chuckles but the film clearly doesn’t work as a comedy. The jokes at times can be embarrassing. For example the commercial advertisement of The Amazing Race... Wasn’t funny the first time, wasn’t funny the next eight times mentioned. Jibran repeating to the audience he got kicked by a horse twenty times over is not funny. Can we discuss how Jibran’s pain shifts on and off, when it comes to the aftermath of getting kicked by a horse? Sometimes he feels like he’s in pain, sometimes he looks pretty healthy... It’s not convincing at all. As mentioned earlier: The Katy Perry Firework joke is not funny, that joke has been already used in The Interview, why did you copy a joke made six years ago? Couple things to point out towards the end. Regarding this film copying a joke from a previous film, the extremely bizarre reveal can be resembled to Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. For a film trying to be a comedy, this film honestly fails to make a parody out of one of the most interesting creations of Stanley Kubrick’s career. It’s in no ways funny at all, it just comes out offensive to the legendary film maker. If you’re going to take material out of a classic great film, at least do something with it. I also didn’t like the fact these characters didn’t recognize the bad guy at the end. There is actually a much better way to construct this scene better, unfortunately it went to the lazy route.
Despite my differences towards the comedy aspect of the film, I felt as a story and even a romantic drama this film isn’t half bad, even much much better than the dreadfully boring The Photograph Issa Rae was also in. When it comes to the romantic drama of this story, I was honestly invested. The characters do have completed developed arcs, as they learn from their mistakes and feuds, and end becoming whole again... Well done movie, well done. I honestly wasn’t bored by the story, I do believe it kept me at interest for the most part. I actually enjoy the plot twist in the film, it was actually charming, caught me off guard, and I can say it was actually funny too. If you can wipe off the comedy material of this film, it would honestly be much better, than it being completely awkward to the story.
Overall, The Lovebirds is just ok. If you like these two comedians, then sure give it a try, but don’t expect many fireworks in the comedy field. Also if you’re in a relationship, then I would check this out as well, maybe you’ll learn that someday you’re going end up in feuds... But can work it out for the better, as they can only make you stronger. -Mitch Smietana