I Want You Back Review: Jenny Slate, Charlie Day's rom-com endearingly entertains despite its predictability

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I Want You Back Review: Jenny Slate, Charlie Day's rom-com endearingly entertains despite its predictability


I Want You Back 

I Want You Back Cast: Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Manny Jacinto, Gina Rodriguez

I Want You Back Director: Jason Orley

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime

I Want You Back stars: 3/5

The idea of love has been sold to us in so many forms through cinema that you almost feel like there will be a point when it won’t be as appealing as it first seemed. Although looking back now, I also realise how over the years, the genre of romance has undergone several changes as it moved on from larger than life stories to something that is small and precious and often even based around that one tingling feeling, one gaze, a hug that sparks a connection. Amazon’s new release, I Want You Back which releases at the opportune time in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day is the latter when it comes to rom-com films. If The Shape of Water taught us how empathy is a powerful enough expression to turn into love, I Want You Back is about shared grief turning into love with a rather predictable storyline that mostly works in its favour.

The thing about romantic comedies is that they are meant to make you feel good. In I Want You Back, something about Charlie Day’s Peter and Jenny Slate‘s Emma is so normal that you instantly find yourself connected to them. You know these characters, you’ve felt these feelings and while you may not go up to the extremes that they go to in order to secure their love, it’s a journey that’s light-hearted and entertaining. The film revolves around Peter (Day) and Emma (Slate) who after getting brutally dumped by their partners decide to team up together to help each other win back their exes. 

I Want You Back review 2

In no world it seems like a good idea to go back to your ex, ( unless it’s JLo and Ben Affleck romance of course!) and you feel the same for Peter and Emma who refuse to move on after their partners do. Seeing how their exes have found new romances, Peter and Emma hatch a plan to break them up after declaring each other as one another’s “sadness sisters.” Finding themselves in unbelievable situations, Peter and Emma go to great lengths in the name of love, only to realise that what they have been chasing all this while may not be something that they actually want. 

I Want You Back is written by Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger of This Is Us fame whose earnestness in this storyline is what works in its favour. Despite the plot having regular rom-com tropes, the film manages to uplift itself above the dozens of rom-coms because of its ability to keep you mildly invested in its lead characters and their desperation to preserve relationships that may not be good for them instead of moving with their lives which clearly have obstacles and questions that they are not ready to address. Peter and Emma’s choice of escaping their problems by trying to focus all their energies on deadbeat relationships is something that many may relate to.

The Jason Orley directorial seems best to enjoy when not taken too seriously. While e there are points where the film seems far-fetched, for the most part, it remains decently entertaining. Some of the film’s best moments include the “meet-cute” between Peter and Emma, which happens to be when both are at their ugliest as they take time off from work to stalk their exes and cry their hearts out in their office building staircase. It’s an unlikely meet as the two strangers comfort each other by telling one another their breakup tales and plan to hang out soon after to deal with their sadness together. While the film’s first act remains fresh with the budding friendship between Emma and Peter’s characters, the second act particularly suffers as certain scenes involving Peter trying to break up Jenny’s ex Nate (Scott Eastwood) and his new relationship are stretched out. 

ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Charlie Day REVEALS how Pete Davidson landed up with a cameo in I Want You Back

While Aptaker and Berger make sure to bring out the humour with some hilarious sequences, it helps that they have actors like Charlie Day and Jenny Slate to deliver those lines given how they make it sound wittier than what they would seem on paper. Jenny Slate makes sure to represent Emma as something more than what a regular rom-com female lead would be. She particularly shines during a scene where she performs Suddenly, Seymour during a scene involving her and Peter’s ex Anne (Gina Rodriguez) and her new boyfriend Logan (Manny Jacinto.) Charlie Day and Jenny Slate have excellent chemistry and that’s another thing that works in huge favour of this film which could have easily been passable with a less talented star cast. In supporting roles, Manny Jacinto and Gina Rodriguez also steal a few scenes. 

In terms of the technical aspects, cinematographer Brian Burgoyne brings a certain warmth to this film with frames that beautifully paint the emotional status of the film’s leads. There’s also a great score by Siddhartha Khosla that stands out. Despite all the cliches, I Want You Back at its core sends out a hopeful message for the brokenhearted. In search of love, finding oneself is equally important and as Peter and Emma fall in love with their own ambitions and personalities, they also find comfort in each other’s supportive stances for another and because of these elements that the film remains at its endearing best. 

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