The classic rom-com is given a non-traditional spin in “The Lovebirds,” now streaming on Netflix. The honeymoon is over for couple Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani), who’ve decided to split up after a couple of years together. Seconds after breaking up in their car on the way to a party, a strange man runs out in front of them and Jibran accidentally hits him. A cop suddenly commandeers their vehicle and runs down the man, killing him. Crazy things happen, and the two become unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery.
The story is fun, even if there isn’t much to it. The pair, who flee the scene and run from the cops because they are afraid of being blamed for the murder, have a series of misadventures as they race through New Orleans attempting to solve the crime. Since the film stars an African-American and Pakistani-American, it touches on social issues that reflect the different reactions that two people of color have to the situation versus how two white characters would likely behave if faced with the same predicament. It’s a fresh, modern take on a formulaic narrative.
The jokes are mostly funny and the leads have a terrific chemistry, even if their delivery is full of over-the-top gestures and line readings that play to the balcony. The blending of a romantic comedy with a mystery / adventure story is fun, but this movie probably would’ve felt like even more of a letdown if it had been released in theaters.
“The Lovebirds” isn’t great, but it provides mindless escapism that works as a home streaming flick, and is entertaining because of its very likeable, charismatic comedic leads.