Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE LOVEBIRDS (Netflix)

THE LOVEBIRDS, which was supposed to come out in theaters April 3rd, instead dropped on Netflix today because of…well, you know, I’ve said it a thousand times. Here’s the thing: everybody thinks all these movie studios that are releasing these films for people to enjoy at home during these troubling times are doing a great public service. Well they aren’t. Here’s why: First everyone got access to Trolls World Tour, which a lot of people I’ve talked to didn’t really like (at least their kids did though). But what did Universal really expect with a sequel to a movie based on real toys whose popularity peak ended in 1994? A lot of people didn’t like Bloodshot (I thought it was decently entertaining), but that was in theaters just a week before the pandemic and then you were able to buy it at home once everything shut down. And then Scoob! and Capone came out last week and while a lot of people rented or bought those, their Rotten Tomatoes scores showed that audiences didn’t care for those either. If you’ve read my Scoob! review, you already knew I was in that camp, and with Capone…well…my review on that odd train wreck is coming later this weekend! So are the studios really being nice by releasing these for people bored out of their mind at home…or did they not have much faith in these films anyway? They thought they’d charge up the wazoo for rentals and purchases to see if we were that stupid and would do anything just to see new content with these hefty stay at home orders didn’t they? With none of these movies being even close to good or even decent…I think the joke is on us. And that brings us to The Lovebirds, which Paramount ultimately sold it to Netflix so they could dump it on their platform. This is not solely because of COVID-19, but because they realized that with so much that is going to be crammed together in the theaters whenever things start to go back to normal that it might not make much money, combined with the fact that they didn’t really have much faith in the movie, they just ended up sayig “fuck it,” and cut their losses. If you calculate it, the math adds up. Seriously, R rated comedies, hell most comedies in general no matter the rating, don’t make blockbuster like numbers any more. They just don’t. If The Lovebirds ended up being released in theaters, if there was no COVID-19, how much do you think it would’ve made at the end of its run? I think less than about $40 million total, especially with blockbusters just about to be released around the corner combined with competing against A Quiet Place Part 2’s second released weekend, after the first would’ve made ungodly amounts of money for John Krasinsky. I changed my ind, it probably would’ve made less than $30 million in the end (with a less than $10 million opening weekend). If you’ve read the articles, you would know that Paramount ended up selling The Lovebirds to Netflix for $60 to $70 million. Jot all this down, do the math. Did you come up with what I came up with? Yes…They. cut. their. losses. Paramount easily won, because the movie isn’t even that good. It’s an okay, one time watch, silly, over the top, situational rom com, where the two leads have undeniable chemistry but the bland story is filled with plot holes. The plot holes evolve into an improv argumentative comedy just keeps going on and on and grows tiresome fast. So much so where you are almost shutting your eyes and plugging your ears only 15 minutes into the movie because you feel like it’s been going on already for several hours.

The official movie synopsis is as follows: “A couple (Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani) experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery.” Here’s the problem: the murder mystery isn’t so much of a mystery and when all is revealed it feels very generic and underwhelming. Also, it is filled with plot holes. There are a lot of forced, convenient cause and effect moments that happen just to get the characters from point A to point B. And they feel so forced that while the movie was still playing, I was thinking of a dozen other ways the couple could’ve gotten out of the whole situation by taking less than a second more to just stop and think. If any audience member to your movie ends up doing that, it is what we like to call bad screenplay writing. For example: if you’ve seen the trailers, you know the film starts off by a guy claiming that he is a police officer, taking over the couples car, and chases a guy on a bike. Off topic, but to emphasize the nature of the forced improve argumentative comedy, Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani annoyingly scream directions and random other shit at the guy just to be the center of attention on the screen and to get the audience to force laugh. That is the moment I knew the whole movie would do this every chance that it got and that I’d eventually want to plug my ears. Back on track: the ‘police officer’ eventually catches up to the guy on the bike, runs him over, and then backs up, runs him over again, then three-peats, clearly showing the characters and the audience that he is not who he says he is. Once he is done, he runs off before the police get there yet the couple takes the phone off the cyclist at the crime scene. And then two white hipsters show up and think the couple murdered the cyclist, so Rae and Nanjiani argumentative improv with the hipsters for several minutes too long to try to explain the situation, get nowhere with them, and then run off with the phone and just leave their car there. Here’s the thing, if the couple didn’t take the phone, there would be no movie, because there is literally nothing else tying them together with the murderer to advance the plot. It’s was a little too convenient for me. Also…why the fuck didn’t they just wait for the police to show up and give them the phone to maybe help prove their innocence? You want to know why? So the movie could make a cheap stab at a police racial profiling joke that so many other movies have done, and have done better. There’s more of that forced plot convenience, but for those of you still wanting to watch the movie, I dare not spoil anymore, but here is one more little example. It reveals Kumail Nanjiani has his phone the entire length of the film and a detective keeps calling him…you are telling me that the police couldn’t have just tracked their phone to try to intercept and capture them? After you watch the entire thing and go back and think on several of the scenes , a lot doesn’t add up.

With this being a situational comedy, every little scenario that the couple runs into needs to be amped-up to the extreme by the end of that particular scene. If you’ve seen the trailers, the scene with the bacon grease and the horse is the only scene in the movie that accomplishes what the movie wants to set out and do. Every other scene never quite gets there. In fact, there is this scene near the end that involves, to not spoil anything, a cult, and the cult does something extreme during one of their meetings. Usually at that point in a script, the main characters would be accidentally involved to join this extreme act and not just be witnessing bystanders. But in this movie, they don’t have the characters go to that extreme and they just end up being witnessing bystanders. During all this playing out, I turned to my wife and asked her, “wouldn’t it have been funnier if they were directly involved in this?” And she agreed. It was quite odd. Then the scene kind of just ends and then a small eye rolling twist is revealed making the entire movie basically pointless anyway. It’s exhausting. Not as exhausting as trying to force a smile during a scene where the couple shows up late at an engagement party and makes up an over the top lie to explain where they were. And they just keep explaining, almost unnecessarily yelling to get their point across to the hosts for several minutes too long. Director Michael Showalter, mainly known for directing the wonderful ‘The Big Sick’, which also starred Mr. Nanjiani, is hardly at fault for this movie. In fact, he might be one of the only saving graces as he, with ‘The Big Sick’ and now this, shows he’s clearly an actor’s director, as Nanjiani and Rae’s chemistry is the only thing keeping this barely floating boat watchable. It’s an easy point and shoot film, the only thing he does wrong is let some of the improv scenes go on too long.

The real problem is the script. The movie was written by two guys that have written episodes of The Blindspot and The Blacklist on television. No comedies whatsoever. And that’s the only things they have written. I stopped watching both shows in their early seasons because of the contrived forced plot writing, and unfortunately they brought their half-assed skills to this movie and almost completely ruined it. I have a feeling the script was half a movie long and there were big blank pages that just said, “IMPROV, LET THE ACTORS ARGUE AND YELL RANDOM SHIT AT EACH OTHER TO FORCE AUDIENCE TO LAUGH”, secretly hoping that would tie everything together. It doesn’t. It’s amazing that Nanjiani and Rae kept their chemistry while trying to figure out what to yell at each other randomly next. There is only one scene where this works, it’s the first ten minutes of the film, and it is at the beginning right after the title card, 4 YEARS LATER, that comes up right after we see the characters do a ‘morning after, after having sex for the first time, falling in love bit.’ They cut to them arguing about every day life. And it is funny only because it is relatable arguments that all couples go through when they’ve been together for awhile. This movie could’ve been about them having those conversations for an hour and a half, retitled ‘The Real Break Up’, and that would’ve been a better movie than what we got. Once that realistic conversation scene is out of the way, it is just improv ridiculous over-the-top yelling random shit for the rest of the film because studios and storytellers thinks that what dumb audience members come to see and laugh at (unfortunately this kind of fuckery actually does sometimes work with dumb ass audiences). But for me, it just didn’t work here. At least the movie was short, but at 1 hr and 27 minutes, it still felt about half an hour too long. This film feels right at home at Netflix, its nest resting comfortably on a mediocre branch the streaming platform is known for growing. It didn’t feel theatrical at all and it is hard to believe that audiences would fly to the theaters just to experience this mediocrity.