Runtime: 111 Minutes
Director: Jason Orley
Writer: Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger
Stars: Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Scott Eastwood, Gina Rodriguez, Manny Jacinto, Clark Backo, Luke David Blumm
By Peggy Marie
Have you ever found yourself watching a movie where the surprise of how good it is actually stuns you? Well colour me that person with this wonderful little surprise from director Jason Orley and writers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, with Prime Videos exclusive upcoming release of “I Want You Back”. It took the rom com cynic in me and turned it upside down and inside out, with this wonderful little switch-a-roo of taking the norms of the genre and well, not just changing them, but owning them and so much more.
It all starts with a little bit less than stellar opening for the first 10 minutes or so, with Emma (Jenny Slate), whose boyfriend Noah (Scott Eastwood) is breaking up with her. All the while Peter’s (Charlie Day) girlfriend Anne (Gina Rodriguez) is doing the same with him by citing the fact that even though she’s a teacher, she somehow thinks he’s holding her back from her non-existent acting career and life as a worldwide traveler. From there, the two recently dumped strangers stumble upon each other’s breakup anguish in, of all places, the stairwell of the office building where they both work. Terrified at the prospect that, in their 30s they have lost their last shot at love, they each seek some solace in each other and together hatch a desperate plot to win back their ex’s, which ends up turning into a mission to help each other con their respective exes back into their lives. Emma agrees to seduce Peter’s ex Anne’s new boyfriend high school drama teacher Logan (Manny Jacinto), and Peter agrees to become Emma’s ex Noah’s best buddy to distract him from his new pie shop owner girlfriend Ginny (Clark Backo), each in an effort to sabotage their new relationships and remind them of what they’re missing. It’s a setup that can defeat all logic, but as well sets up a classic movie that is a lot funnier than the majority of its counterparts. But what makes it so perfect is everything that happens along the way and boy, does a lot happen.
Honestly, it’s watching moments like Emma telling Peter he’s more of a ‘slow-burn attraction’ that highlights just how much fun this film is after it’s slightly bumpy beginning that had me wrapped up in it’s palm in no time at all. Until now, I did not realize that what has been missing from my life is Slate’s character Emma, playing homage to “Little Shop of Horrors” as just one of many hilarious moments in a film packed wall-to-wall with laugh out loud comedy moments. One of complete delights of these moments is when seventh grader Trevor (Luke David Blumm), who is only working on the school’s play to cut some detention points off, becomes friends with Emma, never in a creepy way, but in a “I don’t know what platonic means, but you’re my girlfriend now” hysterically funny, but also sweet way.
But it’s truly the chemistry between Charlie Day and the wonderful Jenny Slate that does everything for this movie and when I say everything… I mean EVERYTHING. They are wonderful together and make every little twist believable, laughable or emotionable. The entirety of this supporting cast is so spot on, diverse and wonderful. And I would be remiss to not mention some keep-your-eye-out-for-them-cameos, that will just make you love this movie till it’s very end.
So honestly, take it from a rom-com cynic, this movie will de-ice your heart, make you laugh and maybe…just maybe, you and me both will find our ‘plane mask buddy’.
Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR
“I WANT YOU BACK” premieres exclusively on Prime Video Friday, February 11, 2022