This year, month, week, take your pick–none of these have turned out the way most of us have anticipated. That could be one reason our good intentions of sticking to the theme of mental health in May has failed so miserably, though I’m not mad about it. We’ve experienced quite a few films that I’ll think about for a long time during the month…will this week’s pick be one of them?
Immediately after breaking up, a couple implicated in murder must work together to clear their names.
Leilani and Jibran connect instantly when they meet at a party, spending all night and much of the next day together. Four years later, the magic is not only long gone, and it may have never been there in the first place. The two seem utterly incompatible at this point–Leilani a chronic social media addict who is convinced the two could totally win The Amazing Race, Jibran a skeptical documentary filmmaker who criticizes virtually everything and constantly corrects Leilani on the minutest details.
Driving to a party one evening, Leilani and Jibran finally decide to break up and end their shared misery. But as soon as they’ve uttered the words, a bicyclist suddenly appears, and Jibran accidentally hits the man. Though L&J offer to help the man and call an ambulance, the bicyclist appears afraid and is cycling again shortly thereafter. Before the couple has a chance to process what has happened, a mustachioed man claiming to be a police officer takes the driver’s seat and chases the bicyclist down. Things take a much darker turn when the vehicle catches up with the cyclist, repeatedly running the man over until he dies.
As soon as he’s arrived, the driver disappears, leaving Leilani and Jibran the prime murder suspects. Regrouping at a diner, the two exes decide their story is too strange for the police to ever believe. Now in possession of the deceased’s phone, Leilani and Jibran vow to solve the murder in order to clear their names. Their first clue? A Google Calendar event that evening with Edie at a place ominously named The Dragon’s Den.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Leilani and Jibran are in way over their heads; after approaching Edie, they’re tied up in a barn and threatened with hot bacon grease and kicks from a horse. Edie and her congressman husband are determined to get their hands on incriminating photos that the deceased bicyclist apparently had. When Leilani and Jibran escape, their new goal is to find the photos at the bicyclist’s home–after a quick change of clothes at a local pharmacy.
Needless to say, Leilani and Jibran’s attempts to break into the bicyclist’s apartment aren’t immediately successful. To make matters worse, it turns out the apartment is full of frat bros who worked for the man but have no more answers than our leading couple. Either way, the return of Moustache, the unhinged murderer from before, spells trouble for the bros and a narrow escape for Leilani and Jibran–though they do manage to get a hold of the compromising photos.
The photos lead Leilani and Jibran to a sort of Eyes Wide Shut-style orgy, into police custody, and finally out of trouble. …Until, on the way home, the two recognize their driver’s mustachioed face. [cue dramatic music]
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
Honestly, the only good elements of this film are Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani; both are as entertaining as ever. Besides that…eh, it’s fine.
The plot is meant to be absurdly farcical, but it never really gets to a level that’s funny. I don’t remember any of the jokes besides the gratuitous
karaoke moment car singalong, and that’s not a great sign.
I admit the biggest problem for me are current events surrounding police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (among so many others), which have no direct connection to the creation of the film itself. Regardless, some of the humor just didn’t land as intended because of the context in which it was released. It’s difficult to watch characters worry about being disbelieved or even assaulted by the police in lines that are meant to be funny. And the silly wrap-up in which of course the police didn’t suspect you in a crime you clearly didn’t commit, innocent bystanders/people of color lolz…it’s disturbing, to be honest. Perhaps with a more satirical edge, this film could pull off the humor better; however, it’s hard to imagine laughing at these ideas, especially at this moment. It’s just much too real.