Lovebirds Stars Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae Name Two Movies That Inspire Their New Comedy

Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani in The Lovebirds

In Michael Showalter’s The Lovebirds, audiences are introduced to an atypical movie couple. Rather than being a film that focuses on watching love blossom first between the characters played by Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae, the story instead fast-forwards you four years into their relationship as they are on the verge of being ready to break up. It’s not the normal thing that you see in Hollywood titles, but that simply led the stars to dig a little deeper to find some cinematic inspiration for their roles, which I learned during an interview with the actors last week.

With The Lovebirds set to arrive on Netflix this Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to hop on a video chat with Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae, and my first question for the duo was in regard to the history of the bickering couple in the romantic comedy genre, and titles that they looked to in hopes of being authentic. You can check out their responses by clicking play on the video below:

In The Lovebirds, Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae star as Jibran and Leilani – a couple that has spent years together, but mutually agree that it’s time for them to split while driving over to a friend’s place for dinner. Making things go from bad to worse, their car winds up not only being hijacked by a man pretending to be a cop, but is then used as a murder weapon to kill a man on a bicycle. Fearing that they will be convicted of the crime, the protagonists decide that the only way to clear their name before they get arrested is to try and solve the mystery themselves.

Describing his own pop culture touchstone for the project, Kumail Nanjiani reached deep into Hollywood history, and plucked out some fantastic inspiration from one of the great early big screen couples: Nick and Nora Charles, the stars of the Thin Man franchise from the 1930s. The classic films followed the duo – the former a retired detective, and the latter a wealthy heiress – and stars William Powell and Myrna Loy earned raves for their characters’ sarcastic and witty repartee while out sleuthing together.

Even near a century following their release, the classic mystery movies are still serving as inspiration, and you can definitely witness the spirit at the heart of The Lovebirds.

Going a bit more modern with her pick, Issa Rae dug into the idea of a comedic film tracking the fracture of a relationship, and highlighted Peyton Reed’s The Break Up as a title she found herself referencing and reflecting on in the making of her new movie. It’s not an easy thing for a story to both make an audience laugh and also have the lead characters demonstrate a consistent animosity toward each other, but that’s something that the Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston movie does well, and it evidently stuck out in Rae’s mind as The Lovebirds started coming together.

The best news of all is that the work paid off. The Lovebirds is not only a super funny film, but Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae are brilliant together, and share some of the best chemistry we’ve seen in a while from a romantic comedy that goes all-in on both the romance and the humor. It’s a real treat, and one that you’ll soon be able to enjoy for yourselves.

The film was originally set to be a theatrical release scheduled to come out in early April, but given current world events plans were changed, and now it will soon be coming directly to your house. The Lovebirds will begin exclusively streaming on Netflix starting this Friday, May 22, and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interview with the stars!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.