The Lovebirds was originally designated as a cinema release
The Lovebirds was originally designated as a cinema release

The perfect Netflix movie for tonight

The Lovebirds is a perfect movie for Netflix.

Originally a cinema release from Paramount, the comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Silicon Valley) and Issa Rae (Little, Insecure) was offloaded by the studio to the streamer globally in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

It's a great decision because this is exactly the kind of movie you want to watch on Netflix, an inoffensive, silly and riotous comedy with sharp dialogue, and comes in at a brisk 87 minutes.

That runtime alone is reason enough to press play - why are comedies trying so hard to hit Gone With The Wind length?!

The Lovebirds' story beats and twists may be familiar and predictable - you absolutely know how this movie will end while the production company logos are rolling at the beginning - but the combination of Nanjiani and Rae as a bickering couple is a masterstroke of comedic chemistry.

 

Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae = winning combination.
Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae = winning combination.

 

Jibrani (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Rae) met four years earlier and at the start were madly in love. Now, they snipe and squabble at every turn and seem to be out of sync on every level - "I'm on one page and you're reading a magazine!"

Despite Leilani's wish, they're probably not going to make a particularly effective team on The Amazing Race.

On their way to a dinner party, Jibrani and Leilani are in the middle of breaking up when they accidentally become embroiled in a murder plot involving a dead cyclist, a man who claims to be a cop (Paul Sparks), frat boys listening to Third Eye Blind and a couple (Anna Camp and Kyle Bornheimer) who threatens them with bacon grease.

The Lovebirds is a fast-paced and propulsive story, even if many of its turns don't quite make sense and it's baffling why anyone would make the terrible choices Jibrani and Leilani make.

But none of that matters all that much because this whole movie exists as a platform for Nanjiani and Rae to do their thing, which is to crack jokes and be hilarious in ridiculous circumstances.

Watching them trying to break a window is something you won't forget for a while.

Serious comedic chops
Serious comedic chops

 

They riff off each with such vibrancy and a mad energy that you absolutely believe them as a couple that started off strong and then settled into a pattern of complacency and then discontent.

But underneath all that acid-tongued meanness, there's genuine affection and care. Nanjiani and Rae make their characters feel lived in and super likeable, even as they're gallivanting around in a unicorn hoodie and gold-foil bomber jacket. You want these guys to win or to at least survive.

Directed by Michael Showalter from a screenplay by Aaron Abrams and Brendall Gall, The Lovebirds isn't going to blow your mind from a story perspective - and it's basically Date Night, which starred Tina Fey and Steve Carell.

Showalter's previous film was The Big Sick, which also starred Nanjiani who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay with his wife Emily V. Gordon, based on their own meet-cute. The Big Sick had a lot more to offer and brought something fresh to the genre whereas The Lovebirds is pretty rote.

But whoever thought to cast Nanjiani and Rae as the leads deserves a gold star, or three of them, because they're the reason The Lovebirds is so much fun. You know what you're doing this weekend.

Rating: 3/5

The Lovebirds will be available to stream on Netflix from Friday, May 22 at 5pm AEST

Share your movies and TV obsessions | @wenleima

Originally published as The perfect Netflix movie for tonight



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