Film Review: I Want You Back

I look forward to the horror twist on this, given that tagline.

I haven’t seen a lot of movies yet in 2022, but the first contender for my favorite film of the year is the Amazon Prime original, I Want You Back. It’s one of the rare romantic comedies that is both genuinely laugh-out-loud funny and hits the right, authentic tone for the romantic part of it (as far as that goes with Hollywood; you still gotta caveat that some). And you know, I’m a sap, so I love me some fun romantic comedies.

The film follows Peter (played by Charlie Day, most known for the long-running TV show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which I’ve never seen, believe it or not, so this was my first Day exposure) and Emma (played by Jenny Slate), who are both reeling from being broken up by their significant others, Anne (played by Gina Rodriguez) and Noah (played by Scott Eastwood, who is Clint Eastwood’s son!), respectively.

Peter and Emma happen to run into each other because they work at the same office workplace and they decide to hatch a plan to win back their significant others. Emma is going to try to break-up Anne and her new boyfriend, Logan (played by Manny Jacinto, who I can’t see as anything other than Jason from The Good Place) by trying to initiate a threesome to make Anne uncomfortable and question Logan. Which works!

As for Peter, his plan is to befriend Noah at his gym workplace and I guess convince him to leave his new girlfriend, Ginny (played by Clark Backo) and go back to Emma.

Pretty brutal how fast Noah moves on. They get married within months (maybe even weeks?) of his break-up with Emma. Ouch.

But of course, like any great romantic comedy, Peter and Emma are the ones growing closer together, unbeknownst to them initially.

Day and Slate have unbelievable chemistry. As I mentioned, this was my first exposure to Day and he played his role as the quirky, but charming guy well, while Slate I think even bested him, stealing the show as an awkwardly hilarious girl trying to find her place in society.

So, even though Emma’s plan works and Peter gets Anne back, he realizes he likes Emma more and she actually believed in him unlike Anne.

Despite Peter’s plan not working, Emma comes to realize her and Noah actually weren’t compatible. She grew! She moves out of her crappy living situation with another couple and is pursuing her own career goals.

I also mentioned that I’m a total sap for the sappiest romantic gestures and at one point, Peter tells Emma his theory about love (which he thought was applicable to Anne), which is that the best kind of love is a slow burn. That it builds over time into this blossoming, beautiful fire to mix metaphors.

When he realizes it’s Emma who is right for him, he tells her, “You’re my slow burn!” But of course, at that point in the movie, it was too late. Peter essentially lost Anne (of his own volition, this time) and Emma because once Anne was back to being available, he jumped right back to her and told Emma he didn’t want to see her again because that would expose their prior nefarious machinations. Womp womp.

Eventually, though, we do get the wrap-around moment. Emma analogizes love not to a slow burn, but to finding that person who will help you with the airplane oxygen mask before putting their own mask on. Well, Peter and Emma end up on the same plane together (and next to each other, no less), hit some bad turbulence and wouldn’t you know it, Peter puts Emma’s mask on first before his own.

She’s his slow burn; he her airplane oxygen mask helper.

Convenient plotting, but I still loved it because again, sap!

The plotting provides ample opportunities for laugh-out-loud moments and heartfelt moments, but the material is elevated by the performances of Day and Slate and their chemistry throughout. I could watch those two in 15 more films together. I loved them in this that much.

But I also can relate to the sentiment of wanting an “ex” back. It made me think like Emma, maybe my ex and I aren’t as compatible as I think, either? I don’t know.

I highly recommend giving this a shot, if you couldn’t tell by me saying at the start it’s (so far!) my favorite film of the year.


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