Romantic comedies only work if the two leads have great chemistry. Kumail Nanjiani had it with Zoe Kazan in “The Big Sick,” and he shows it off again with Issa Rae in “The Lovebirds.”
The movie begins when they’re a brand-new couple, but quickly fast-forwards to four years later, when their relationship is starting to wear thin. On the way to a party, they argue in the car until they accidentally crash into a cyclist who comes out of nowhere. Before they fully comprehend what happened, a guy carjacks their vehicle and drives over the cyclist, again and again, before jumping out and running off. The couple, as people of color, know they can’t go to the police, who would likely blame them, so they run away and decide to figure the whole thing out on their own.
That’s the kind of setup that’s straight out of other screwball comedies, including the Tina Fey/Steve Carell movie “Date Night” from a few years ago. Like that film, “The Lovebirds” wraps its protagonists in all sorts of predicaments, then forces them to talk their way out of them. To reveal any of those plot points would be to spoil the movie for you, so I won’t — suffice to say they run the gamut from silly to sublime.
Director Michael Showalter (who also helmed “The Big Sick”) keeps the action moving without letting it get in the way of the comedy or allowing the verbal sparring to slow the pace. As the adventure tightens their relationship, Rae and Nanjiani are both very good, and because I liked them so much, I enjoyed the movie, too.
I give “The Lovebirds” an 8.5 out of 10. It’s now streaming on Netflix.