On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 8, 2021

On the one hand, there's real admiration for Michael Showalter's The Lovebirds and its intent of not only exploring why lasting relationships between two random people whose lives happen to intersect at a time when their age and mindset are fixated on finding a mate with which to accomplish the "life things" shouldn't and often times don't work, but also why it sometimes can. Most relationship failings can typically be blamed in some fashion on the fact partners get to know one another so extensively that a wedge is driven between them; there's nowhere left to go, no other emotional terrain left to explore. The Lovebirds is admirable though, because it also manages to be about and convince its audience that sometimes this insane-sounding concept of "love" can in fact work. What isn't as convincing as the themes and ideas screenwriters Brendan Gall and Aaron Abrams' clearly want to dig into though, is the story through which they try to convey them. A mishmash of tones that attempt to go from grounded to outlandish and brash to out and out sweet-often within the same breath-serves only to emphasize the serious case of identity crisis occurring in Showalter's film as it yearns so badly to have the depth if not the authenticity of a Linklater talkie while sporting the outward appearance of something Katherine Heigl would have been cast in a decade ago. 

At a brief 87-minutes though, it's difficult to stay mad at a movie that's ultimately as frothy with as forthright a pair of performances as Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani deliver here. There is a brisk, effortlessness to the aesthetic as Showalter and cinematographer Brian Burgoyne capture New Orleans in a fashion that doesn't look to capitalize on the recognizable facets, but instead focuses on the ground level areas; the places in between the well-known sites where people who live their year-round would go rather than the tourist spots they likely actively avoid. Beyond the setting though, Showalter's film has a confidence in its style and an ease to the comedy that naturally flows out of the chemistry between our leading couple. While the plot might end up feeling rather contrived, Leilani and Jibran's relationship never does. In fact, while I mentioned the film being a brief 87-minutes earlier and benefiting from said brevity largely for the sake of the plot there's certainly a desire to see these two on screen more together if not for longer here. No, The Lovebirds isn't anything we haven't seen before in the vein of comedies about oblivious bunglers winding up in outrageous circumstances and it doesn't commit enough to that tone to really have us buy into the stakes of the situation, but the charm and appeal of Rae and Nanjiani carries this a long way. Overall, this is meant to be little more than funny and entertaining and I was never not either of those things, but because Rae and Nanjiani are so good as this couple rekindling their relationship and remembering what attracted them to one another in the first place, you want the rest of the movie to rise to their level as well. It doesn't, but it's still a really fun way to spend an hour and twenty-seven minutes, so why the hell complain? 

Final note: a lot of crazy, random shit happens in this movie, but the most unbelievable thing about the "one crazy night" concept enlisted here is the fact a group of college-aged kids would be listening to Third Eye Blind at their house/blackmail packing party. B-

Honestly, this deserved better. An extremely condensed version of Randall Sullivan's 2002 opus of a novel, LAbyrinth: A Detective Investigates the Murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., the Implication of Death Row Records' Suge Knight, and the Origins of the Los Angeles Police Scandal, that also served as the basis for USA network's 2018 limited series Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. which was, funnily enough, the year City of Lies was originally set to be released. 

While Christian Contreras' screenplay gives us the "need to know" facets of the case that connect the necessary dots to prove to both us as well as Forest Whitaker's investigative reporter that Johnny Depp's Detective Russell Poole was in fact onto something. The film may (definitely would) have benefited from choosing a single aspect on which to focus and making a movie about that...say, how obsession with the ephemeral robs us of the fleeting moments that actually matter, but the movie seems more concerned with reminding the viewer this is about the case of Christopher Wallace AKA The Notorious B.I.G. than it does latching onto its own themes or ideas. 

There are hints of as much throughout, but such scenes are mostly present to prop-up the procedural rather than explore anything intrinsic to the central conceit without addressing what is already a highly-documented case. One might think Det. Poole, though on a quest to solve an unresolved murder, might have learned a thing or two from the entire breadth of a life cut short rather than focusing only on the end, but such a reflective evaluation would require many more hours of content and consideration. B-

1 comment:

  1. Solo una nota a margine: il tempo oggi è frenetico, inquietante e un po' agitato... E il resto verrà dal https://streamingcommunity.casa/ cinema.