CHENNAI: A comedy is undoubtedly a welcome diversion — or distraction — in these unprecedented times of lockdown with an unseen virus on the prowl. And Michael Showalter has offered us one in the form of “The Lovebirds,” now streaming on Netflix.
To some, the film may be hilariously funny, while others might view it as somewhat silly.
Showalter’s “The Big Sick,” the 2017 film about an Uber driver and struggling standup comedian trying to create laughs, was interesting, so one would have anticipated the US director’s latest work to be equally engaging, especially with Kumail Nanjiani starring in both movies. It is, but only to a point and does not come anywhere near “The Big Sick.”
Written by Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall, and co-written by Nanjiani, “The Lovebirds” begins the morning after Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) spend a night together. Fast forward four years and the two are living together, but loving less and arguing more. Initially, their constant bickering is amusing, but it soon becomes tedious. She tells him that he makes documentaries nobody watches, while he criticizes the food in a restaurant she takes him to, saying it tasted like the Dead Sea.
But after they stumble into a murder, the film changes dramatically and the couple face a puzzle they cannot solve. When a man posing as a policeman (Paul Sparks) commandeers their car, chases down a cyclist, and repeatedly runs him over, the couple, too afraid to go to the police, try to solve the crime themselves with the help of the dead man’s phone.
“The Lovebirds” begins as a romantic comedy, but turns into a crime caper with situations that strain credibility.
Why would two innocent young people avoid reporting what happened? They fear that since she is black, he is brown and the victim is white, the police might create mischief.
This sort of reasoning reminds me of Enid Blyton’s mysteries in which children go to the police only after solving a crime themselves.
But “The Lovebirds” is not for children and so appears somewhat out of focus.