Basically: Two heartbroken people meet each other after their partners break up with them and decide to work together on getting them back.
It’s the romantic season and, since movie theaters no longer really show lovey-dovey work, we now have the streamers to do it. Honestly, streaming services have pretty much taken over as the home for wonderful new romantic comedies.
With I Want You Back, Charlie Day stars as Peter and Jenny Slate stars as Emma. Peter is in a long-standing relationship with Anne (Gina Rodriguez) who breaks up with him because she feels the relationship has gotten too stale. Emma is with Noah (Scott Eastwood) and he breaks up with her because she doesn’t have her life together, he feels she’s aimless and in arrested development.
Peter and Emma are totally broken from losing their partners. They meet in their office building where they both end up crying. From there they bond by telling stories of their heartbreak and the good times. That sparks an idea to team up to break up their old partners’ new relationships and get back with them. Emma plans to tempt Anne’s new boyfriend while Peter plans to befriend Noah. I think you can guess this is where all the funny stuff really happens.
Day and Slate have great chemistry and comedic timing. They make you root for Peter and Emma to achieve their goals, but you also want them to get together. As with any good rom-com, you know they will end up together but I Want You Back builds that desire for the audience to see how they get there.
The potential barriers towards that goal really work and, with this set up, those barriers include the characters’ histories. Gina Rodriguez’s Anne is a good foil for Jenny Slate’s Emma. Emma really puts on the sexy to entice Anne’s new beau Logan (Manny Jacinto). It’s interesting to watch Slate teeter around as the goofy funny woman turned femme fatale, which is still funny when the setting is a middle school performance of Little Shop of Horrors. Jacinto is also funny in each scene he’s in.
I’m not the biggest Scott Eastwood fan but his portrayal as physical trainer Noah works. Noah is pretty basic and he ends up liking Peter as they go on little adventures as friends. Day does well to carry all the comedy here.
I Want You Back drags a bit after the first hour but it wraps up well in the last 15 minutes or so. It doesn’t feel too fast or extra sappy, which rom-coms often are (although some might disagree with my sentiment there). For me, a little taste of saccharine is needed in a rom-com but also a bit of reality.
In the End: I Want You Back is a fun and delightful romantic comedy with funny and charismatic leads in Charlie Day and Jenny Slate. A movie worth watching more than once.