Subhash K Jha reviews the Netflix film The Lovebirds.

Review of Netflix Film The Lovebirds: Kumail Nanjiani’s Catastrophically Unfunny Wrong-com

Starring Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae

Directed by Michael Showalter

Rating: *(1 star)

Pakistani American stand-up comedian Kumail Nanjiani featured in a critically and commercially successful rom-com The Big Sick in 2016.

What we didn’t know at that time was that the big sick Nanjiani flick was yet to come. The Love Birds is so absurdly juvenile in content and so awfully jejune in a tone that it makes you wonder if, like the Coronavirus, God has a way of slowing down people when they are moving too fast.

This film, if one may call it that out of sheer politeness, is a clear brake-down for Nanjiani’s career. He is suicidally unfunny in his performance. Part of the responsibility must go to his writers who have saddled his character Gibran (presumably of Pakistani original though no one in the film or behind it has the time to be culturally specific) with the kind of supposedly funny lines that won’t get laughs even on WhatsApp chats.

The other major problem is, Nanjiani’s co-star. Issa Rae displays better comic timing and is more into the sheer brainlessness of the baloney being served up here than Nanjiani. The two characters share zero chemistry although they are supposed to be together for several years. A staleness and a frozenness have settled into Gibran and Leilani’s twosome. Man, they need a shake-up!

So for that matter, so does the stolid sloppy script that houses them.

This is a relationship on the verge of a lockdown, that suddenly gets a jolt (like a coronary shock administered to a cardiac patient) when a man’s body crashes on the couple’s car windshield. The classic party crasher, so to speak.

This is where the ‘zany adventure’(that’s how this comatose project must have been sold to its cast and crew) is supposed to begin. Alas, all we get from hereon is a string of silly gags slapped together in a quavering quickie that leaves us feeling sorry for ourselves and for Nanjiani, more he than us.

We will survive this catastrophically unfunny ‘wrong-com’. But will Nanjiani?

There is an interrogation sequence where a lady goon named Eddie asks Nanjiani what kind of torture would he like: hot oil from a pan on his face or a donkey kicking him on his posterior. What we get in The Love Birds is worse than both the tortures put together.

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