The Lovebirds: Love in the Frying Pan

Netflix’s latest straight-to-streaming films are certainly rivaling what’s available in theaters. Too soon? In the romantic comedy The Lovebirds, Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani play a pair of lovers falling out of love who end up stuck in a murder mystery involving a secret cult and some bumbling drug dealers. Some of it doesn’t make any sense at all, but under the direction of Nanjiani’s partner on The Big Sick, Michael Showalter, the film is funnier than expected.

While The Big Sick and Stuber are Nanjiani’s cinematic claims to fame so far (he’ll be in The Eternals whenever that films), and some audiences have seen him in Silicon Valley, his latest film has more in line with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey’s Date Night or Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams’ Game Night. Instead of a married couple out on a rare date or a couple involved in a couples’ group trying out games, Nanjiani and Rae’s Jibran and Leslie are a couple on the rocks, aware that the lifestyle they’ve been living as newly-in-love isn’t sustainable.

Then, disaster or some twist of fate depending on your perspective intervenes strikes and they accidentally hit a cyclist, get commandeered by a cop, and find themselves embroiled in a murder investigation. They are able to take shots at racial profiling, class warfare, and more, as they outrun the bad guys and the good guys, and try to figure out how to clear their names (I think). But the truth is that they never seem to be quite clear on where they’re headed, and it doesn’t really matter.

What does matter here is that the two of them find that the things that were pushing them toward breakup were less important, and the things they had in common were much more important. It’s a question of whether or not the frying pan (or the fire) will refine them and make them better, or cause them to crash and burn even more dramatically. It’s comedic genius — but it’s also a reminder that what threatens us and challenges us often brings out the best in us.

Sure, it’s profane and flip and raucous. Netflix has delivered a theatrical quality comedy that’s sure to entertain, and maybe even show us a thing or two about our own relationships.

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