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If you've been following me for long enough, you know I'm not the biggest fan of rom-coms, particularly when the film is almost exclusive to this genre. The Lovebirds mixes up the latter with a crime-mystery plot, so I was surprisingly interested in watching this Netflix (ex-Paramount) flick. I don't have a definite opinion on Kumail Nanjiani as an actor since I've only seen The Big Sick, a film I admire, but I don't really share the love that many people have for it. I do like his stand-up routines, though. And it's the first time I see Issa Rae on screen, so ... what do I think about them?
They're undoubtedly the best part of this movie. It might be expected for some people, but I genuinely didn't know how this pair would work together. Kumail and Issa share impeccable chemistry, carrying the whole story on their shoulders, especially when the entertainment level starts to decrease due to the generic, dull narrative. Their comedic range and timing are really great, but the script only allows for occasionally good jokes. Issa gives the strongest performance out of the two, by far. She's able to balance her comedic and dramatic expressions quite well, something I can't really write about Kumail.
I'm not going to lie: the two fantastic lead performances and scattered laughs here and there aren't enough to hold my interest. The screenplay is packed with the genre's formulaic plot points, ridiculous narrative/character decisions, and cringe-worthy dialogues. This last issue becomes worse as time goes by. There's a specific type of scene repeated throughout the film in an annoying quantity. It's one of those tiresome, hard to understand, truly irritating dialogues where they're talking over each other for comedy's sake, acting like fools, and it just doesn't work for me.
The plot on itself is hilarious, and not in a good way. To be clear, Michael Showalter does an excellent job of establishing the lighthearted tone, making one of those movies where the viewer isn't supposed to take things too seriously. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this, but there has to be a limit to how much the viewer needs to simply accept and go with it. I watched the film with the right mentality, but some character decisions are baffling. I don't really have that much to write.
The main characters have clear personalities and motivations. Their relationship has a well-developed arc. Technically, it doesn't have anything remarkable, but it also doesn't possess any faults. It's as cliche as hundreds of other rom-coms with the difference that it features two POC protagonists. Not trying to diminish this fact in any way, but diversity isn't automatically a sign of a "good movie", as much as people try to insinuate it. To be completely honest, it contributes very little to nothing when it comes to making a film better or worse unless it's a movie that actually develops the diversity thematic. The Lovebirds could have a heterosexual relationship between two white people or a homosexual one with two POC characters or anything else... With this screenplay and jokes, it would feature the exact same problems.
All in all, The Lovebirds boasts two wonderful performances from Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae, but the latter steals the spotlight. They push through the film's issues with phenomenal chemistry and do their best to overcome their script's limitations. Despite a few good jokes, Michael Showalter's flick doesn't do enough to separate itself from other existent rom-coms. Diversity doesn't instantly transform a movie into a "good film", especially when the narrative is packed with the genre's repetitive plot points, cliches, and silly character's decisions. Some dialogues are genuinely cringe-worthy, and even eye-rolling at some points. However, I admit that I'm not the best person to recommend this movie or not. The humor didn't work for me, but it can easily be extremely efficient for someone else. Therefore, if rom-coms are "your thing", I won't oppose to giving this film a chance.