It’s “Date Night” meets “Midnight Run.”
Between “The Big Sick” and “The Lovebirds,” both directed by Michael Showalter, Kumail Nanjiani has found himself in bad comedies like “Men in Black International,” “Stuber,” and “Dolittle.” Those films wasted his talents, and I know he can portray a character who’s not afraid to kick it up a notch. Even his autobiography “The Big Sick” showed us his strengths and weaknesses, and that was his best performance. Those turkeys knew nothing about his work.
But with his next comedy, “The Lovebirds,” he’s back to his full potential, and makes you laugh almost every step of the way with his verbal and physical gimmicks. This is called “timing,” and both he and Issa Rae use it wisely.
The plot splices “Date Night” with “Midnight Run” as they play an unhappy couple named Jibran and Leilani, who, en route to a dinner party, find themselves in danger when a man (Paul Sparks) claiming to be a cop murders a biker. They both end up being accused of the homicide, and are forced to flee. So, their only hope for survival is to solve this murder mystery throughout New Orleans.
“The Lovebirds” also adds a sweet touch when the main characters question their relationship. I’m pretty sure this crazy night makes them closer. Predictable as it sounds, but when you get to that point, you see a connection in these two. But really, they’re funny together with how they adapt from one situation to the next, and their humor is neither forced or labored.
The scene that made me cringe is when bystanders think the two murdered the biker. It’s the way it’s handled with their dialogue and dispositions. That’s pretty much the only scene I felt was silly. And Anna Camp is somewhat annoying as a Southern gal who ties the couple up, but there is a hilarious scene when Nanjiani is given the choice between bacon grease to the face or what’s behind Door Number 1.
This action-romantic comedy overcomes its weaknesses, and Showalter delivers the goods with some help from writers Martin Gero, Aaron Abrams, and Brendan Gall. They all guide Nanjiani and Rae with brilliant material, familiar set-up, and lots and lots of hard-earned laughs. And Sparks has some solid work as the bad guy. He may not talk much in his introduction, but he explains things clearly in the end.
And I just love the New Orleans setting and location, because of how much fun their dodging from the feds and criminals looks. I would love to visit that city one day, and I’m happy to know that the movie doesn’t damage its reputation with its choice of genre.
As most of you know, “The Lovebirds” was supposed to be released by Paramount Pictures in theaters last April. But because of the COVID-19 crisis, it got pulled from the theatrical schedule, and found a spot in Netflix’s streaming schedule. According to what I’ve seen, I’m glad it found a back-up plan.
If Kevin Hart starred in this movie, it probably would have gone overboard with his comic gimmicks, but then again, he wasn’t in Netflix’s other comedy “The Wrong Missy,” so it’s a more or less situation. “The Lovebirds” is a good time with Nanjiani and Rae.
Available for Streaming on Netflix