Remember those were things that you would see on television and movies?
Eight minutes into “The Lovebirds,” and it was clear that this was the type of Netflix romantic comedy that two unmarried, middle-aged Canadians would write for a major studio. But Paramount Pictures sold the rights to Netflix to avoid being on the hook for $16 million dollar bust, a decision that likely has the studio laughing to the bank.
Set in New Orleans, Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani star as couple Leilani and Jibran, whose honeymoon phase ended long ago. After four years of dating, the love is gone—if it was ever there to begin with.
But before the couple can cut their losses and call it quits, they are framed for a murder they didn’t commit. On the run from the law, Jibran and Leilani get tangled up with a criminal syndicate with information that can clear them. Together, they must find the real killer or risk spending the rest of their lives in prison.
It’s safe to say an industry that has spent so long subverting the populace with homosexual romance completely forgot how to write love with a man and a woman. The film doesn’t even pretend that Rae and Nanjiani have any chemistry on screen as a couple. At no point does the viewer believe their relationship, so they make that shortcoming part of the story. Jibran and Leilani are separated from the beginning, all they do is fight and within the first five minutes they come to the realization that they make a terrible couple. Their on-screen relationship has no shred of realism, nor does it attempt to making “The Lovebirds” a rom-com with no rom or com.
Nanjiani is tasked with carrying the comedic load, but much like last year’s financial and critical flop “Stuber,” he isn’t good enough for the job. Rae makes the film somewhat tolerable but she also suffers from not having the ability to make any of the cringe-inducing lines she is given including a “Who Let the Dogs Out?” reference.
There aren’t many other ways to slam a film without taking it up to a tall building and tossing it from the roof against its will. “The Lovebirds” is a bullet dodged for Paramount and a cinematic flop for everyone else.