This week I thought, why not see out our loosely themed Mental May with a film picked solely on it’s central pairing? We do what we want on our blogs and if we want to watch a Rom Com starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani then we will.
How can it fail, honestly?
The Lovebirds (2020)
A couple experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery.
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Starring: Issa Rae • Kumail Nanjiani
Leilani: You literally spent several hours yesterday writing a negative Yelp review, with your white woman fingers, about that tapas place we went to, and I thought it was pretty tasty.
Leilani (Rae) and Jibran (Nanjiani) have been together for four years. Like most, they bicker a fair amount, mostly about social media usage and whether they’d win The Amazing Race (Leilani is convinced they would, Jibran – not so much). On the way to a dinner party they mutually agree to split up, throwing pretty mean barbs at one another in the process.
And that’s that – so let’s all lament our past lost loves and head home, eh? Sike!
Obviously we’re here for an adventure and since one of Leilani’s major relationship gripes is Jibran’s inability to be spontaneous, it seems things are about to get a lot faster and a lot looser, just to fuck with them. Distracted by their argument, Jibran runs a red light and hits a cyclist. In the following kerfuffle, the pair are then carjacked by an undercover police officer chasing after the very same cyclist. The pair almost enjoy the action until they catch up with ‘Bicycle’ who’s brutally run down by the cop and then reversed over a couple of times. In their car.
When the cop – ‘Moustache’ – disappears and the (former) couple are cornered by a couple of witnesses hellbent on citizen’s arrests, they’re faced with a dilemma: should they stay or should they go? Jibran thinks they should hand themselves in, while Leilani reasons that nobody will believe their story and anyway, racial profiling will ensure they’re locked away forever.
Now officially on the run and in possession of Bicycle’s phone, Leilani figures their only option is to try and work out what the fudge is going on so they can exonerate themselves with the feds. Reluctantly, Jibran agrees and so begins a comedy of errors as the ex-lovebirds meet a cornucopia of colourful and dangerous characters, uncover a most unsavoury middle-class sex cult (although Leilani doesn’t strictly hate it), dodge bullets, pump perps for information, evade the police – and maybe, just maybe, fall back in love?
Jibran: It was very salty. I didn’t know I would get mouth-f***ed by the Dead Sea! And I don’t have white woman fingers. I’ve got meaty bronze.
I’m not going to take us through every single strand of this caper but I did enjoy myself. The dialogue is nice and snappy – and it’s genuinely charming in places. I’d expect nothing less in the hands of our leads, who are ridiculously attractive and likable. I really love the back of the cab scene where Leilani tricks Jibran into singing ‘their’ jam – Firework by Katy Perry.
The general malaise near the end of a relationship is very relatable and there’s a true sadness to it. Luckily, there seems to be a little hope left for our pair who have obvious unfinished business. I’m pretty sure my business would never be finished with Kumail Nanjiani, just saying.
This plot has been used a lot so it’s not exactly a game-changer in that respect but it’s more self-aware than its counterparts and not so white washed as – as an example – Did You Hear About the Morgans?. I am here basically for any stories that don’t just centre around privileged white people (like me).
The Lovebirds is fun, good-looking and sweet but it probably isn’t going to be the most memorable movie of the year, and I don’t really have much more to add.
UPDATE: Just one more thing. It doesn’t ring at all realistic that the two of them would get away from the police that easy. The comments regarding racial profiling make sense, given horrific current events and white privilege since forever, so why then when they finally face the detectives on the case, is it all so “We just wanted to make sure you were okay/course you didn’t do it.” It’s all a bit too fairytale ending and, well, tone deaf.
Does it pass the Bechdel Test?
You know I don’t think it does? The only conversations I remember between two females were about men. Happy to be corrected though.