I Want You Back sees two characters in the midst of a break-up with two different sets of partners. It then asks the question, what if two heartbroken people worked together to win back their exes?
The film, which stars Charlie Day and Jenny Slate, brings this concept to fruition with an old-fashioned rom-com plot. The plot uses the mechanics of other films such as My Best Friend’s Wedding where a character trying to win back the love of their life eventually looks like a bad person for trying.
I Want You Back might have a fun concept and a decent cast but does the movie work? Here is our review of the romantic comedy on Amazon Prime Video.
I Want You Back review
The film centers around Peter (Charlie Day) and Emma (Jenny Slate), two strangers who have recently been broken up with by their longtime romantic partners. Peter was in a relationship with Anne (Gina Rodriguez) for six years when she decides to break up with him because of his unwillingness to grow or take risks.
Emma gets broken up with by Noah (Scott Eastwood), for similar reasons. She lives in a house with a couple who are college students and has anxiety about finishing her education late in life.
After their devastating relationship splits, both Peter and Emma coincidentally cross paths in the same work building. Realizing they both share similar pain, they begin confiding in one another about the heartbreak.
But their newfound friendship goes even further when they decide to conspire on a plan to sabotage their exes’ new relationships. In doing so, the hope is that they will have a second chance at getting their loved ones back.
Romantic comedies are the most difficult genre to critique as a reviewer. Mainly because they mostly follow the same formula and are designed to be predictable. The audience expects a love story and for that love connection to be rekindled by the conclusion.
Because of this, the only way to communicate to rom-com lovers whether a film is good is mostly by the strength and chemistry of its leads, and its humor.
Charlie Day and Jenny Slate are tremendously gifted comedic talents. Slate is infectious doing stand-up comedy as well as on-screen with her anxious approach to comedy. Day is just as hilarious in the right role but in the wrong project, he can feel out of place.
Unfortunately, I Want You Back is not the best use of Day and Slate. They are both great in the movie and give everything to their roles. The issue lies within a script that attempts to sell a romance between them but requires the characters to spend very little time together within the story.
Once Peter and Emma establish their plans to get their relationships back, they absorb most of the runtime hanging out with each other’s exes. So, by the time the audience needs to be sold on the romantic subplot between Day and Slate, the feelings they are supposed to have for each other do not feel earned.
That said, there are some genuine laughs in this movie. One scene involving a hot tub with Pete Davidson might break some viewers. Also, minor spoiler, but somehow the creative team behind this movie even made threesomes hilarious (or maybe they have been hilarious and awkward all along).
Despite the script issues, rom-coms are something of a rarity these days. And for a Valentine’s night at home, I Want You Back is a perfectly fine movie to stream. As a genre, this is not a category of film this reviewer has ever cherished. But for a romantic comedy, viewers who feel the absence of date night movies can find adequate results here.
This will be true long as streamers hit play with the understanding that there are far better films in this genre that earn the romantic plot better and take more risks.
I Want You Back: Should you stream it?
Overall, I Want You Back is a perfectly fine and serviceable romantic comedy. The central romance between the film’s leads is a little rushed and predictable. And while there are some genuine laughs to be had with I Want You Back, there are funnier and bolder films within the rom-com genre.
That said, Charlie Day and Jenny Slate bring their best to the characters despite all these issues. The cinematic world is thirsty for date night movies and I Want You Back will quench that need.
It’s a safe and passable Valentine’s stream. What more is required for a date night?
I Want You Back begins streaming tomorrow on Amazon Prime Video.More: Amazon Prime Video