Romantic comedies centered around heterosexual characters have been the norm since, well, romantic comedies came into existence. Society deemed heterosexuality as the norm. So, movies reflected it. Even when society deemed that heterosexuality isn’t the norm, the motion picture industry took some time to reflect it. Now that there’s a somewhat steady flow of romantic stories with LGBTQ+ characters in them, even a hint of heterosexuality feels repetitive and boring. But despite hating straight romances, there are a few that make it through the cracks. Some recent examples are Cyrano (2022), Annette (2021), In the Heights (2021), Palm Springs (2020), and The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020). And it looks like I Want You Back (2022) might make it into that list.




Directed by Jason Orley and written by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, I Want You Back follows two couples who break up within the first 10 minutes of the film: Peter (Charlie Day) and Anne (Gina Rodriguez), and Emma (Jenny Slate) and Noah (Scott Eastwood). Like every other rom-com, for the next 10-15 minutes the protagonists, Peter and Emma, wallow and cry over the death of their love life. Then they happen to run into each other because they happen to work in the same building, just on different floors, like every other rom-com. They proceed to have drinks, become friends, and keep each other from getting back with their exes. But then they decide to help each other get back with their exes by driving a wedge through their respective exes’ present relationships. And high jinks ensue.

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If you have watched any rom-com with two heart-broken souls banding together to do the most convoluted or the most simple thing possible, you know where it’s going. In case you don’t, spoiler alert, the characters in question are going to fall in love by the end. Another spoiler alert, that’s technically what happens in I Want You Back as well. Don’t worry, you can watch it coming from a mile away. But the good thing about Orley’s direction and Aptaker and Berger’s writing is that, for the most part, they don’t sleepwalk from the beginning to the end. First and foremost, they take Peter and Emma’s age into consideration. They delve into the existential crisis that comes with the realization that it’ll be difficult to find someone compatible enough to live and die with so late in life. And in doing so, the writers try to explain how modern society has warped the meaning of “late in life”.

I Want you Back (2)

There are a lot of comedic moments peppered throughout the first two acts of the movie. Since Day and Slate are such amazing actors, they only elevate the comedic punches to the next level. They are aptly helped by Rodriguez, Eastwood (his comedic timing is brilliant), Manny Jacinto’s Logan, and the howl-arious cameos from Pete Davidson and Ben McKenzie. Day’s performances are quite synonymous with his freakouts. Of course, he gets to do them in I Want You Back. And the fun thing about said freakouts is that it never gets stale. If you have watched Slate’s work in Parks and Recreation (2009-2015), you know that she’s amazing at pulling off this off-beat blend of glamour and awkward humor. Which is something that she does in here again with so much ease and charm. Day and Slate get to play off of each other a lot and their chemistry together is strong!




However, despite all that high-octane, rib-tickling humor, I Want You Back always manages to slow things down and talk about life and aging. Sometimes it even feels like the movie wants to do away with the romance and comedy and just let the characters talk about how it sucks to get old and how adults actually don’t know what they are doing and how that sucks as well. The very nature of Peter and Emma’s jobs reflects that intention. Peter works for a firm that looks after old people and he wants to build an old age home that’s devoid of corporate evil. Emma works for a dentist and wants to complete her education, which she couldn’t earlier because of her father’s illness. And, personally speaking only, the themes feel relatable because these are things that you face when you’re pushing 30 or you’re in your 30s and you’re single and you’re privileged enough to sit and think.

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It’s just that the third act falls apart completely and concludes a little abruptly as it tries to wrap up all the comedic and romantic stuff by being a bit too serious. Again, that’s something that happens in all straight rom-coms. So, you will see it coming from a mile. Hence you probably won’t be disappointed. Other than that, I Want You Back is a really funny and heartwarming movie with amazing performances from Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Scott Eastwood, Gina Rodriguez, and Manny Jacinto. It moves at a fair pace, thanks to editor Jonathan Schwartz. It’s easy on the eyes, thanks to cinematographer Brian Burgoyne. And it’s riddled with some of the funniest gags and dialogues, thanks to Jason Orley, Isaac Aptaker, and Elizabeth Berger. Therefore, if you’re in the mood to experience any of those or all of them, give I Want You Back a watch.




I Want You Back will stream on Prime Video from February 11

Trailer

I Want You Back Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes 
I Want You Back Cast – Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Scott Eastwood, Gina Rodriguez, Jason Orley, Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger

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