Cert 15 Stars 3
A pair of likeable stars bring a breezy freshness to this otherwise by-the-numbers romcom caper and do enough to divert you from the feeling you’ve seen it all before.
Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani play Leilani and Jibran, lovebirds who risk becoming jailbirds when a road accident unwittingly involves them in a high powered blackmail conspiracy and a night of being chased by the police and a relentless gun-toting bad guy.
Being in possession of a phone containing compromising photographs of prominent people, they’re chased around from dinner party, to bars, and to a masked ball which unsurprisingly turns out to be populated by high society swingers.
Being tied up, assaulted and forced to dress very badly allows them to learn truths about each other and reevaluate their relationship.
If this sounds familiar well you’re probably thinking of Steve Carell and Tina Fey in 2010’s Date Night, or Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams in 2018’s Game Night, and possibly a few more besides.
Where this is notably different is in the casting, as it’s still regrettably rare to see an African-American and a Pakistani-American headlining even in this sort of modest Hollywood fare.
The script is blind to their ethnicity except when gags are made about police prejudice, and even this is balanced by the vaguely sympathetic investigating officer also being African-American.
Rae is bright, vivacious and the more funny and ballsy of the two, though that doesn’t take much, as Nanjiani would probably be the first to admit he’s far from being an Alpha male.
He’s amiable screen presence and his throwaway comic asides on modern life are delivered in the passive aggressive style manner he demonstrated in 2017’s romcom success, The Big Sick, for which he was Oscar nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
A mainstream entertainment not trying to change the world, The Lovebirds provides sufficient chuckles in its enjoyable, undemanding and disposable way.