The Lovebirds ★★½

Picked on a whim - wife wanted something funny we hadn't seen and, well, the trailer pretty much sold us. (Also, for me, seeing Michael Showalter was directing.) The chemistry is really there for Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae, which is the number one priority for a romantic comedy, so on the whole The Lovebirds really works. They nail that warm, lived in relationship both in the opening scenes as they meet cute and as a bickering, too-complacent pair years into a coasting phase - falling in love or fighting, they made me believe.

This is crucial, because despite a multitude of laugh out loud moments, the plot kind of skitters out of control as it goes along. There's a particularly jarring plot point near the end that I don't want to totally spoil, but suffice it to say that I felt my immersion waning as I began wondering why an otherwise smart comedy starring two people of color would suddenly have a weirdly pro-police scene. I'm sure the movie was finished months ago and there was no deliberate pushback to the recent cultural shift with respect to attitudes about law enforcement and systemic racism, but the moment felt particularly tone-deaf.

Still, as the story shifted into its climax, I felt invested in these two, really wanting them to not only save their skin, but stay together. That counts for a lot, because I'm often left completely cold by movies in this genre. As the credits rolled, I was mostly left with that affectionate warmth. I laughed more than expected, too.

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