Its very charming cast effortlessly elevates the predictable drama of I Want You Back.
Starring: Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Scott Eastwood,
Manny Jacinto, Clark Backo, and Gina Rodriguez
Directed by: Jason Orley
Tagline: Their exes have moved on. They haven't.
After decades of being mired in the same old clichés and rehashing what are essentially slight variants of the same old plot points and punchlines, romantic comedy isn’t exactly the most exciting of genres. But every once in a while, a romcom that manages to be delightful despite the genre’s many tired trappings does come along. Amazon Studios’ I Want You Back is one of those rare films. The movie doesn’t exactly try to transcend romcom tropes, but it delivers its predictable beats with plenty of heart and humour.
The plot revolves around dental clinic receptionist Emma (Jenny Slate) and retirement home executive Peter (Charlie Day) – two strangers whose paths cross after they are dumped by their respective partners. Nursing broken hearts while still hung up on their exes, the duo hatch a scheme to win back their former paramours by sabotaging their new relationships.
Emma’s mission is to seduce Logan (Manny Jacinto), the new boyfriend of Peter’s ex, English teacher Anne (Gina Rodriguez), in the hopes of breaking them up. Peter, meanwhile, plans to befriend Emma’s ex, fitness trainer Noah (Scott Eastwood), and convince him to leave his new girlfriend, Ginny (Clark Backo), and take back Emma.
Things obviously don’t go quite as they’d hoped, although everything does unfold exactly as you’d expect. Even if you know nothing about the project, take one look at the movie’s poster and you can easily tell what the endgame is here. But despite the formulaic plot and predictable narrative, there is still plenty to enjoy about I Want You Back, thanks in large part to the charming actors and endearing characters.
Both Day and especially Slate are terrific as the leads, making their characters likable despite their very ill-advised schemes, and giving us plenty of reasons to root for their personal growth and happiness. The script (by Love, Simon scribes Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger) offers both warmth and wit, even if it doesn’t subvert convention or expectations.
All in all, I Want You Back may not offer a new take on its well-worn genre, but it delivers both its romance and comedy in an entertaining way and makes good use of the charisma of its very capable cast. It won’t make you look at romcoms through a new lens, and it could have certainly been more ambitious with its plotline and execution, but its sweet, enjoyable narrative, lovable characters, and relatable take on heartache are very likely to keep you engaged from start to finish.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection