It’s not The Big Sick, but the leads carry the movie.
Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) have been a couple for several years. After their arguments come to a head, the two agree to break up, only to hit a man on a bicycle (Nicholas X. Parsons) a few moments later. The man on the bicycle flees. They are then commandeered by a police officer (Paul Sparks), who runs down and then shoots the bicyclist. He flees, leaving two bystanders to discover Jibran and Leilani over the body. The bystanders call the police and, worried that they’ll be the suspects, the couple flees. Now they need to find the murderer and clear their names, while also dealing with their own awkward situation.
I almost loved this movie. I really wanted to, if I’m being honest, because I loved the last collaboration between director Michael Showalter and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick. But while that movie had the heart of a tragic relationship to fall back on to break up the comedy and nailed the tone of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (because they wrote it), this movie doesn’t quite pull it off.
A big part of what this movie doesn’t get right is that we don’t get a lot of time with Jibran and Leilani as a couple before they’re fighting and breaking up, so we don’t ever really have a connection with them. I’m not saying that I needed an Up-style intro depicting the happy couple living together, but for a four year relationship, we really only get a short picture of them being together, going from the end of their apparent one-night stand which, within two-and-a-half minutes jumps to them fighting four years later. We then get six minutes of them fighting and breaking up. Less than nine minutes into the movie, the people we’re supposed to root for are not together and we spent most of that nine minutes just hearing them bicker, most of which was over nonsensical crap. Since this is a rom-com and we know they’re going to be back together at the end, I guess it’s good that most of their complaints are crap, aside from the marriage issue from the last thirty seconds of the fight. Again, it’s hard to root for people that we don’t know and don’t really have a reason to like, and the timing on this is so formulaic, I found multiple screenplay guides that describe it.
Then there’s the plot, which appears to just borrow from other films whenever they had an idea for a scene that would be funnier with the addition of these two characters, going from weird torture to awkward shopping to police chase to Eyes Wide Shut. I’m pretty sure I followed the plot, but it was so dumb that missing out on it really wouldn’t have made a difference.
The thing that almost makes this movie work, though, is that the leads are just that funny. No matter how weird or awkward or stupid the situation, they play off of each other perfectly. Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani are both charming, they’re both likable, they’re both attractive, and, even though the film is dialogue heavy, they actually do a good job of adding levels with their performances. Acting is, supposedly, reacting and they both nail it when dealing with each other.
Overall, if you like either of the leads, you’ll like this movie. If you just want something on in the background to laugh at while you do other stuff, this movie’s a good choice. It’s got some pretty solid laughs at times, but there are much better comedies out there.
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