At the Movies with Alan Gekko: The Lovebirds “2020”

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Romantic Comedy/ Stars: Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae, Anna Camp, Paul Sparks, Kyle Bornheimer, Kelly Murtagh, Moses Storm, Barry Rothbart/ Runtime: 87 minutes

I feel it must be said that even though a wonderful sense of chemistry between a couple of leads in a movie may never be a complete replacement for terrific writing, a brilliant sense of direction, or both, it most certainly can be quite the invigorating factor for both of the other 2 things to try really hard to appear. Indeed when a duo can conjure up a unique, but wonderful dynamic that really works, it can do wonders for every other element in a film and while this is an aspect that works in practically any genre of filmmaking, it most definitely holds particular weight in the genre known as the romantic comedy. This is due to the fact that if a duo can make their relationship seemingly both come to life and feel real in a narrative while also utilizing a wonderful sense of timing, the end result can become something truly special. Now should it not have been obvious from the start just where exactly I am going with all of this, I feel it should be said that the new Netflix release The Lovebirds is a terrific showcase of the facts that I was just talking about. This is because even though the film’s lead actors Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae have never worked together before this film, it is also this film which pulls back the curtain and shows that they are absolutely wonderful screen partners who have a terrific comic banter with one another whilst the narrative throws a series of hilarious roadblocks in their path. Indeed it may not be the most unique movie in the world from a story point-of-view, but, thanks to wonderful work from the leads and a talented director at the helm, this film is still, to some extent, genuinely funny and a quick, but good time to be had watching a movie.

The plot is as follows: The Lovebirds introduces to a duo by the name of Jibran and Leilani, and when we are first introduced to our dynamic duo, they are 2 people who have just had a one-night stand. However, unlike the majority of one-night stands, this pair finds that they actually click, and so decide to give an actual relationship a try. Four years later however, and that endeavor has decided to pay them back by hitting them repeatedly like a boxing glove to the gut. This is because now our once madly in love for each other couple mostly spends their days bickering and arguing with one another about things that are entirely not worthy of having an argument over. Eventually though, it all reaches a head when on their way to a dinner party one night, our undynamic duo decide that they can’t take anymore and that maybe they would be better off apart. Naturally, it should go without saying, but life has other plans in mind for this couple. Plans that start to reveal themselves when, not long after quasi-sorta breaking up, the pair horrifically run into an on edge cyclist, but things soon go from bad to worse when the victim flees, and a guy who says that he is a cop soon shows up, hijacks their vehicle and, pursues the cyclist with the couple still in the car. Yet, despite our heroes initially rooting for him due to believing that he was legitimately trying to take down what looked like a crook on the run, that all changes when the stranger succeeds in catching the cyclist and, instead of arresting him, runs him over a few times thus killing the guy, however witnesses soon arrive thus causing him to vanish before he can deal with the loose ends that is our bickering couple. Quickly realizing that this looks incredibly bad on them, and with no immediate way to show that they are innocence, our couple decides to flee the scene, and after pondering the situation further, realize that the only way they can clear themselves of this is by working together to find the real killer thus sending them on a wild adventure that will not only lead down some strange avenues, but also might just prove to be the thing to get their relationship back on track. Maybe.

Now the plot concept of a seemingly normal couple finding themselves engaged in an insanity-fueled night of both larceny and anarchy is a film idea that has popped up every now and then with the movies Date Night and Game Night being the most recent films that come to mind. Yet even though it could have simply rehashed what has come before in those other 2 films, The Lovebirds never once feels that way because of how dynamic the execution of this film truly is. Indeed this film may utilize well-worn tropes and it may choose to conduct itself in a way that may seem oddly familiar, but recognizing where you have seen this material before is merely an afterthought due to how much you will be laughing during this film. Also to the film’s advantage is the fact that this film’s script is a lot cleverer than you think it is due in no small part to how much it manages to be ahead of the audience more than the audience is ahead of it. Indeed there may be a few instances where you, the viewer, will ponder some of the decisions that either the characters or the narrative chooses to make, but the movie is able to address the fair majority, albeit not all, of those by the end of the film. Heck the film even manages to rope in a decent wrinkle into the third act that is able to elevate everything that came before it.

Ultimately though, the aspect that will helps this movie score with audiences however, is the 24 karat comedy gold that is the banter that is conjured up by Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae and which has the effect of quite a few hilarious moments as well as a fairly constant smile being placed on the face of the viewer. Indeed there really is a delicate balance that this duo must achieve due to the fact that the elevated circumstances that they find themselves a part of must be counteracted with both seemingly genuine responses as well as a relationship that is realistic. To their credit then, this dynamic duo manages to do some absolutely fantastic work, and manage to mine the most laughs possible out this material. Indeed in any situation they find themselves in during this movie, they manage to earn the audience’s laughs. Plus this film’s leads also find themselves able to conjure up a terrific kind of magic in regards to their relationship in the film in that even though there is a significant number of possible pitfalls a movie can fall prey to by having a bickering couple as your leads, but thankfully Nanjiani and Rae are able to either sidestep or not fall into any of them as the film goes along. Indeed even though there are less than positive emotions in the mix with our couple, they don’t seem particularly spiteful or genuinely hateful in nature, and the film also doesn’t honestly use the concept of awkwardness as a manner to draw humor from. Indeed what may sound like arguing is really much deeper than that, but it’s due to the skill of the stars that it is deeper to begin with.

Now even though it should be obvious that film leads Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae possess significantly enough talent and charisma which should help them land new and exciting acting roles in the years to come, I also feel that just as equally worth keeping an eye on is their director in this, Mr. Michael Showalter because I feel with each film that he does he is rapidly in the process of proving himself to be one of the more intriguing directors in the comedy genre that is working in the business today. Indeed the comedy and the plot may be a bit more expansive than his last two films, but being able to witness him work with this range of material at this time is honestly quite intriguing above anything else if for no other reason than the fact that this film manages to work as wonderfully as it does. Indeed whilst there was never any doubt in my mind that this director knew the art of comedy, in no small part due to the fact that he has managed to showcase an understanding as also an actor as well as a writer, but it is still quite wonderful to see his hard work pay off and him now get such amazing possibilities as a film director as well.

All in all it is always a delight when we get a rom-com that has an equal amount of both romance and comedy and this is exactly what this film gives us. Indeed, in addition to being quite funny at moments, it also really makes wish that we get to see Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae act together again sometime as they manage to possess both a lovely chemistry, but are also quite funny when paired together. Indeed it may only be 87 minutes, but definitely give this movie a try. I promise you won’t regret it. On a scale of 1-5 I give The Lovebirds a solid 3 out of 5.