by Kyle Arango
It was always a treat when you see that two very talented comedians are teaming up for a comedy. Recently, that has not been the case It feels like that trend died after Wedding Crashers came out and now you need an ensemble to get some laughs. So, when I see that Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani are teaming up, it gives me hope because I know what they are capable of. Unfortunately, they also let me down. Their latest offering in The Lovebirds is the worst kind of comedy you can ask for. One that is so unfunny that it becomes a nuisance.
The premise of The Lovebirds is one you have seen plenty of times. A young couple unsuspecting of the world around them is suddenly thrust into an extraordinary circumstance. In this case, they are in a car that someone uses to murder a bicyclist and they become the primary suspects. Now they are on the run from the cops trying to find the man that did this so they can clear their names and get back to their normal lives. All of this is happening as their relationship with each other is falling apart after four years together. Not anything to extreme, but a solid setup for a film. All you have to do is put smart comedic minds in charge of the creative decisions and you have a success. So why did this go so wrong. Clocking in at less than 90 minutes, this film felt like a train wreck that went off the rails in the first ten minutes and was teetering off the side of a cliff until it eventually comes crashing down by the end. You are just wondering when it will be over and hoping there is a chance things can get better but deep down you know that can’t be true.
The worst type of a comedy people tend to say is one that is unfunny. Where the one thing it sets out to do it fails at which is to make the audience laugh. I mostly would agree with that, until now. Now, the worst kind of comedy is one that is unfunny and just plain annoying. This thing is littered with jokes that feel five years too late. Comedies, stop making Uber/Lyft share jokes! It was old the minute the service came out. It is not just the jokes that are devoid of laughs, it is the exchanges with the characters. The filmmakers believe that the two leads just yelling and talking over one another is funny and its not. You cannot understand what they are saying, and the fights last way longer than they need to. It is like watching Stephen A. Smith and Michael Irvin shout at each other only they are not supposed to be professional comedians. There is a not unique joke in this film, the premise is tired and unoriginal, and the leads just embarrass themselves for 90 minutes.
Speaking of the leads, it blows me away at just how bad they are in this film. Not their acting per say, but the decisions they make. Kumail Nanjiani is an awesome comedian who always takes a point he has and makes a statement while also being funny. Issa Rae has been great at coming up with ways to display her experience in the world through a comedic lens. Both of them tossed all that out in this film and settled for stupid, 90’s level humor that is so far below them. On top of that, they have zero chemistry. The film is called The Lovebirds and I do not buy for a second these two have been in a relationship for four years. It feels like they were just paired together for this film because they were the hot names. On top of all that, you have Michael Showalter directing who is known for Wet Hot American Summer and The Big Sick. Two very funny films that have something to say and yet, even Showalter trips on his shoelaces in this. I truly do not understand where this all went wrong. You have all the pieces in place to make a great comedy and instead you have a film a college student could’ve made that is just embarrassing for everyone involved.
The Lovebirds was supposed to come out in theaters in April but after the pandemic hit, Paramount sold it to Netflix. This is not the first time Paramount has done this, you might remember The Cloverfield Paradox. New rule, anytime Paramount sells a film to Netflix, avoid it at all costs. This film is everything you don’t want from a comedy and it just comes across as either misguided or just plain lazy. If anything, you can use this film as an exercise on how not to mishandle the pieces you have when making a comedy.
The Verdict: 1/5 Stars