Written by: Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger
Starring: Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Scott Eastwood, Manny Jacinto, Clark Backo, Gina Rodriguez
Wanting to get back with someone who knowingly broke your heart may lie in the category of incredibly irrational things humans do when they’re in love. It makes complete sense emotionally but still begs the question of why it would be something desired. I Want You Back takes the plot of trying to get back with an ex to another level in its strategy and it makes for a hilarious and equally touching romantic comedy helming some incredibly talented individuals.
Both respectively having long-term relationships terminated recently Emma (Jenny Slate) and Peter (Charlie Day) meet after consoling each other’s sadness. They devise a plot of intervening in the lives of the other’s ex in order to get back the relationships they have lost, which leads to quite the ride for each of them in this process.
While I Want You Back does not bring anything wholly original to the table, the way it goes about its story brings a level of freshness in the way adult relationships are viewed, which makes for such a ridiculously good time as a narrative feature. Much of that comes from the screenplay, of course, but it ultimately comes down to the charm and comedic aptitude of its two leads Charlie Day and Jenny Slate.
At the time of this review, I have not had the chance to review Obvious Child and Landline because of the alphabetical order of review writing, which means this would be the first time I get to gush about the greatness of Jenny Slate. An actor who first burst onto the scene, at least in my eyes, with her ridiculously funny performance in Parks and Recreation but she has then jumped into the film sphere and has delivered nothing but greatness as well. She has this wacky but calming aura she brings to each of her roles and what she does as Emma in this feature is no different. She brings this lovable nature to the character even if the actions say otherwise in the effort to break up another couple to her own benefit. She always finds a way to handle the comedic and more dramatic aspects of her character in such an effortless manner and it always works exceptionally well. Slate always finds the right balance and works incredibly well Charlie Day.
When thinking of who would lead a romantic comedy, Day would not be the first person to come to mind but he really nails it in this feature. Creating this lovable figure who wants nothing but being kind to the woman he loves and living a settled life, he really hammers home that particular element of the character. Of course, the character gets involved in manipulation as well on top of working for a corporation hilariously trying to make the lives of old people worse, everything in this feature comes as a moment of reckoning for him and his life. In a sense, Day’s character comes with the larger emotional arc along with the more complicated story
in the effort to have Emma’s boyfriend get back with her. He impresses in a way that shows range from what has typically been his schtick, particularly in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and it does wonders for this feature.
What makes this feature so darn entertaining comes from the way it toes the line on some very uncomfortable situations yet handles them very well. There are some real gray areas and icky moments within the feature that show just how far these characters are willing to go in order to get back into these relationships. The way it all comes together makes for such an entertaining ride and allows for thrilling moments that will leave the audience gasping at what they just saw.
On an emotional level, this feature marvelously looks at adult dating and how it becomes difficult to simply start over in this process with another person. This story allows for these characters to reflect on exactly why they want to stay together with their ex and not all of it has to do with the individual but rather what it means for them in the future and what they have to do in order to find their person once again. It really lands this idea, especially with the dating landscape existent out there, which from what I get told can be quite the cesspool at times. Therefore, it makes complete sense just how wild things get in this feature in order for these two to get back with their ex.
Incredibly hilarious while also having several touching moments, I Want You Back came out of nowhere and most definitely left quite a mark with its messaging and the way it gets conveyed. Any film giving Jenny Slate a leading role will already be in my good graces but the material she receives here also allows her to shine so her quirks get put on full display in order for her to succeed in the best way she can. Such an enjoyable feature filled with so many memorable moments and makes itself stand out as one of the great romantic comedies of 2022.