In the preface, we meet Leilani (Issa Rae) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) cute, giggly, and obviously crazy about each other after a hook-up that certainly looks like it is going to lead to something more serious. Jump ahead four years, and they are living together, bickering about little things, and their habits are getting on each other’s last nerve. But they have to pull it together for an evening at their friends’ party… Unfortunately for them, the night will NOT get any better.
One of Leilani and Jibran’s quibbles is about whether they could win a teamwork show like The Amazing Race when they disagree on everything. Their evening out ends up putting them to the test when they accidentally hit a man with a bicycle, are carjacked, get mistaken for murderers, and find themselves getting deeper and deeper into the criminal underbelly of New Orleans, all while guilelessly trying to clear their names.
As we have seen in movies like Game Night or Date Night, hilarity can ensue when you throw ordinary folks into extraordinarily dangerous circumstances. We’ve all watched enough TV that we, too, are confident that we are smart enough to solve crimes using our wits and our mad skills… except the truth is that most of us will be of the variety that instantly gets our asses handed to us while we whimper for mercy. But boy, it can be fun to watch that sort of misery happen to others even as you root for them to not be dead at the end of the movie.
Nanjiani and Rae are well-matched appealing leads, and several parts of The Lovebirds had me guffawing out loud. Nanjiani is establishing himself as the next-generation neurotic leading man a la Ben Stiller (but funnier, in my opinion). Rae’s style and quick wit has her lobbing Nanjiani’s neuroses right back at him, while highlighting her talents as a physical comedian. They are goofy and different enough that their chemistry totally works. I feel bad that I would like anything else bad to happen to these characters after this rough go, but if Leilani and Jibran end up in some other accidental dire straits, I’d totally be along for the ride.