The Lovebirds (2020 film)

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The Lovebirds
Official promotional poster
Directed byMichael Showalter
Screenplay by
Story by
Produced by
  • Tom Lassally
  • Oly Obst
  • Martin Gero
  • Todd Schulman
  • Jordana Mollick
  • Issa Rae
CinematographyBrian Burgoyne
Edited by
  • Robert Nassau
  • Vince Filippone
Music byMichael Andrews
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • May 22, 2020 (2020-05-22) (United States)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million[1]

The Lovebirds is a 2020 American romantic comedy film directed by Michael Showalter from a screenplay by Aaron Abrams and Brendan Gall, and a story by Abrams, Gall, and Martin Gero. The film stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, as well as Paul Sparks, Anna Camp, and Kyle Bornheimer, and follows a couple who goes on the run after witnessing a murder.

Originally scheduled to be a theatrical release by Paramount Pictures on April 3, 2020, the film was removed from the release schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic closing theaters worldwide. Its rights were then sold to Netflix, which released the film digitally on May 22, 2020. The film received mixed reviews from critics, although Rae and Nanjiani's performances were praised.


Jibran and Leilani are a couple who have been together for four years. Their relationship is fraught, and the two argue constantly about a variety of topics. While driving to a dinner party, the two mutually agree to end the relationship. Distracted by the breakup, Jibran runs a red light, hitting a cyclist with their car. The man refuses help and flees the scene. A man with a mustache suddenly commandeers their car, claiming to be a police officer and that the man on the bike is a criminal. He pursues the cyclist, but after catching him runs the cyclist over with their car several times, killing him. Mustache prepares to kill Jibran and Leilani with a gun but flees after hearing police sirens. Jibran and Leilani then flee the scene themselves.

Jibran wants them to turn themselves in, but Leilani argues that their unbelievable story and racial profiling will ensure they are blamed for the crime. Having taken the dead bicyclist's phone, they see he had planned a meeting at a bar with a woman named Edie. Leilani reasons that Edie will know who the man is, which will allow them to find out who the killer is and clear their names. The two meet Edie at the bar, only to find that it is a setup; the two are knocked out and tied up by Edie and her husband Brett. Edie mistakenly believes that Jibran and Leilani work for Bicycle, and alludes to blackmail being committed against Edie and Brett. As Edie prepares to torture Leilani, the pair manage to escape. The two travel to an address taken from Edie which they believe is Bicycle's home, only to find an apartment full of frat boys. They overpower and interrogate one of the boys, who admits he works for Bicycle as part of his blackmailing scheme. Before the two can learn more, Mustache arrives, killing all the boys in the apartment.

Jibran and Leilani escape with one of the blackmail envelopes, which contains photos of the intended recipients attending what appears to be a meeting of a secret society. They travel to the dinner party they were originally supposed to attend, tricking Leilani's co-worker Keith into unlocking Bicycle's phone, which contains an address to a black tie event. Leilani and Jibran travel to the event, where all the attendees are wearing masks identical to those shown in the blackmail photos. The meeting turns into an orgy, but is interrupted when the leader of the meeting discovers that there are impostors present. He tricks Jibran and Leilani into revealing themselves, but moments later an alarm sounds due to a police raid; Jibran and Leilani are taken into police custody.

The two meet with Detective Martin, who reveals that Bicycle's pursuit and murder were caught on traffic cameras, and the two were being sought as witnesses, not suspects. The police were aware of the secret gathering and planned to shut them down, but the group was somehow tipped off to the plan. Jibran and Leilani are being driven home, but their driver is revealed to be Mustache, who truly is a police officer, but is also paid by the society to shield them from law enforcement. Mustache also ran the blackmailing scheme with Bicycle, who was killed due to a dispute over payment. Mustache restrains Jibran and Leilani and prepares to kill them, but the three get into a struggle, and Leilani manages to shoot Mustache, who is then taken into custody. Jibran and Leilani make amends and kiss. One year later, Jibran and Leilani participate in The Amazing Race, which tests their relationship once again.



In January 2019, it was announced Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae were set to star in the film, with Michael Showalter directing from a screenplay by Aaron Abrams, Brendan Gall, and Martin Gero. Abrams, Gall, and Gero served as producers, alongside Oly Obst, Todd Schulman, and Jordana Mollick, while Showalter, Nanjiani, and Rae executive produced. Media Rights Capital produced and financed the film, while Paramount Pictures was set to distribute.[2] Also in January, Anna Camp joined the cast of the film.[3]


Principal photography began on January 27, 2019 in New Orleans.[4][5] Production concluded on February 27, 2019.[6] The official trailer incorporates a section of Ilaiyaraaja's “Oru kili” soundtrack composed for the movie Aanandha Kummi (1983) as background music.[citation needed]


The Lovebirds was scheduled to have its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 14, 2020, where Nanjiani, Rae and Michael Showalter were to appear, but they cancelled their appearances[7] and the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[8] The film was also scheduled to be theatrically released by Paramount Pictures on April 3, 2020,[9] but it was pulled from the schedule due to movie theater closures because of the pandemic restrictions.[10]

In late-March, it was announced that the film had been bought by Netflix, who released it digitally on May 22, 2020.[11][12] The film was the top-streamed item on the website its debut weekend, before falling to the fifth-most popular film in its second week.[13][14] In November, Variety reported the film was the 10th-most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point.[15]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 66% based on 174 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "If the breezily enjoyable The Lovebirds feels like a little less than the sum of its parts, it's still an enjoyable showcase for the talents of its well-matched stars."[16] At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 59 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17]

Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 4 out of 5 stars, and wrote, "Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani generate big laughs and a sense of genuine connection as a New Orleans couple on the skids who find out what they really mean to each other when a bunch of psychos try to kill them."[18]

David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a "C−" grade, writing, "The truth is that The Lovebirds makes all too much sense on Netflix. Michael Showalter's follow-up to The Big Sick is as flat and algorithmic as his last rom-com was poignant and alive. The only thing the two films really have in common is a winning performance from Kumail Nanjiani." He also noted that "Rae refuses to quit on the movie even after there's no hope of redeeming it."[19]


  1. ^ Sarah Whitten (April 23, 2020). "Why Hollywood is sticking with movie theaters and only a few films are heading to streaming". CNBC. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  2. ^ Kit, Borys; Galuppo, Mia (January 17, 2019). "Kumail Nanjiani, Issa Rae to Star in Romantic Comedy 'The Lovebirds' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  3. ^ Galuppo, Mia (January 28, 2019). "Anna Camp Joins Issa Rae-Kumail Nanjiani Rom-Com 'The Lovebirds' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  4. ^ "Production Weekly" (PDF). Production Weekly. No. 1123. December 20, 2018. p. 19. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 11, 2020. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  5. ^ Nanjiani, Kumail (January 27, 2019). "We start shooting #TheLovebirds this week. So excited to do this with the amazing @issarae". Instagram. Archived from the original on 2021-12-25. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  6. ^ "Current Productions". Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  7. ^ Ray-Ramos, Dino (January 15, 2020). "SXSW Sets Judd Apatow's The King of Staten Island as Opening-Night Film, Unveils Features and Episodics Lineups". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
  8. ^ "City of Austin Cancels SXSW March Events". South by Southwest. March 6, 2020. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  9. ^ Pederson, Erik (May 24, 2019). "The Lovebirds: Issa Rae-Kumail Nanjiani Paramount Comedy Moved Back by a Month". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  10. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (March 12, 2020). "Paramount's The Lovebirds Delayed Amid Coronavirus Outbreak". Variety. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  11. ^ "The Lovebirds | Issa Rae & Kumail Nanjiani | Official Trailer | Netflix". YouTube. April 20, 2020.
  12. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 20, 2020). "Kumail Nanjiani & Issa Rae Comedy The Lovebirds to Nest at Netflix". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 20, 2020.
  13. ^ Roweles, Dustin (May 24, 2020). "Box Office: Lovebirds & the Most-Watched Movies at Home This Weekend". Uproxx. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  14. ^ Brueggemann, Tom (June 1, 2020). "The High Note Starts Strong on VOD as Netflix's Lovebirds Drops Fast". IndieWire. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  15. ^ Bridge, Gavin (November 4, 2020). "Data: Borat 2 Second Only to Hamilton in Most-Watched U.S. SVOD Movies of 2020". Variety. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Lovebirds (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  17. ^ "The Lovebirds Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
  18. ^ Travers, Peter (May 20, 2020). "'The Lovebirds' Review: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Lovebirds' Review: Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae Are Exes on the Run in Algorithmic Netflix Rom-Com". IndieWire. May 20, 2020. Retrieved May 20, 2020.

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