Released: 22nd May
Seen: 25th May

In case you hadn’t noticed, these last several weeks have been…  a lot. It’s been a couple of months now that the entire world has basically had to shut down while we deal with a minor apocalyptic pandemic and everyone is reacting differently. Some are just getting tired and depressed, some are playing a whole lot of Animal Crossing, others are outside demanding barbers open so they can get haircuts because no one loves them enough to grab a pair of scissors and snip their bangs. I’ve personally been doing the first two of those, my Animal Crossing island is awful at the moment but I clearly have plenty of time to create a little getaway where I don’t have to deal with the third kind of person. 

This little worldwide pandemic has also caused cinemas to completely shut down and new movie releases are just not happening. OK, they are, the idea that we’re actually running out of content is an insane concept created by people who put profits over people and make those profits by churning out content, but it’s content that I’m not enthusiastic about viewing. Do I look like the kind of person who has a hankering to rent the Ben Affleck movie about basketball? No, cos I don’t like basketball or Ben Affleck (he said, having watched both the Michael Jordan documentary series and both Affleck Batman movies over the last week). I’m slowly running out of new Netflix original films to watch, none of them really leapt out as a fun thing to write about. Hell, I can’t even write about Scoob or Trolls World Tour because, for some reason (idiocy, idiocy is the reason) they haven’t been digitally released down under yet even though we’re just as bored as everyone else and have just as many bored kids at home to entertain. Anyway, that explains why I’ve been low on reviews for 2 weeks, now I can talk about The Lovebirds.

The Lovebirds is a romantic comedy starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani who play a couple that’re going through a very rough patch in their relationship. Bordering right on the precipice of breaking up, the couple accidentally stumbles upon a murder and have to try and solve it in order to prove that they weren’t the ones who did it. In doing so they’ll uncover a massive blackmail plot, a corrupt politician (also known as “a politician”) and a whole bunch of other murders. Throughout the events of their night from hell, the two of them will hopefully learn how to work through their own issues and regain the relationship they’ve almost lost.

Issa Rae Kumail Nanjiani The Lovebirds

The interplay between Issa and Kimail is why you should see this film, because when those two are doing a scene together without anyone else it’s actually kind of amazing. Their big opening fight over The Amazing Race is just littered with great lines and a brilliant sense of timing and delivery that these two comics wield expertly. When the scene is just the two of them, the film is at its best. They have fantastic chemistry and are so likable you not only want to see them solve the murder but to get back together by the end (and yes I know I haven’t named their characters yet, that’s because it genuinely doesn’t matter what their characters names are). 

The problem is that the film seems to be taking an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to its structure, trying to constantly one-up the craziness of the scene before it. I believe it was roughly around the moment I was watching an Eyes Wide Shut style orgy, complete with the requisite facemasks and robes, when I realised that the main thread of the story was getting so tangled that it almost stopped working. It escalates so much that I ended up being confused, I mean here I am trying to follow this murder mystery story and next thing I know there’s a man with a penis nose pulling bingo balls out to determine which mask-wearing rich person gets to join the ritualistic fuck pile… for the record, that scene ends up meaning effectively nothing. Like, they could’ve cut the Eyes Wide Shut sequence and it wouldn’t have mattered… except then the film would have been about 15 minutes shorter. Seriously, they just rip off Eyes Wide Shut with no spin except it’s a lot more obvious that the main characters do not belong in the theatrical orgy.

There is also a little bit of a tendency to have some jokes go on too long, banter scenes that end up just lingering on a joke as long as they can or a build-up that overwhelms the punchline. The scene where Anna Camp effectively tortures the main two characters has several moments where they are just repeating information over and over again, eating up precious seconds so we can get this thing over the 90-minute mark. It feels like padding, just a desperate attempt to stretch the length of the project by making everything take twice as long as it probably needed to take… I wouldn’t know what it feels like to do that, but I will tell you that it bogs this film down a lot.

In lesser hands, this film just wouldn’t work. With a less interesting pair of leads, it’d be a bloated mess but almost through sheer force of will this thing actually kind of works. Even with its obvious misshapen padding and inability to reign itself in at times, The Lovebirds is still enjoyable purely as an excuse to see the two leads. There’s a lot of heart and fun to be had with them and I hope we see them work together in something that’s a little better written so they can shine even brighter. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to my little digital island and beat a purple frog named Diva with a net until she leaves.

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