I Want You Back Review: A Hilarious Valentine's Day Winner

Two spurned lovers (Charlie Day, Jenny Slate) concoct a scheme to win back their exes (Gina Rodriguez, Scott Eastwood) in I Want You Back.
Charlie Day and Jenny Slate have fantastic chemistry in a heartfelt rom-com loaded with big laughs. I Want You Back is a surprisingly clever entry in a genre that often feels stale and contrived. The premise follows two spurned lovers as they conspire together to win back their exes. Their scheme goes spectacularly awry but allows deeper introspection as they find solace in each other. I Want You Back had me grinning from ear to ear. Valentine’s Day has a surefire winner.
Emma (Jenny Slate) sits down to lunch with her boyfriend, the handsome and chiseled Noah (Scott Eastwood). She’s stunned when he breaks up with her. Peter (Charlie Day) attends the birthday party of his long-term girlfriend’s nephew. He’s absolutely floored when Anne (Gina Rodriguez) dumps him. Heartbroken and despondent, Emma and Peter accidentally run into each other while crying in their shared office stairwell.
The pair commiserate as “sadness sisters” over their tragic turn of events. Even worse, both of their exes have already found new mates. Noah has started dating Ginny (Clark Backo), a gorgeous pastry chef. Anne, a middle school English teacher, is now shacking up with the pretentious drama teacher, Logan (Manny Jacinto). Emma and Peter stalk their social media accounts in disgust. They hatch a harebrained scheme to win them back. Peter will befriend Noah and turn him against Ginny. While Emma will volunteer for Logan’s school play to try and seduce him.
Charlie Day and Jennie Slate are brilliant comedians. They bring sharp comic timing and witty deliveries to a much better-than-expected script. Their characters have depth, but they defined happiness through partners that didn’t respect or appreciate them. The protagonists are forced to find their actual motivations in life. This sounds cheesy as hell. But their journey to realization is wonderful to behold. Peter is a sweet guy with a kind disposition. Emma has a cheerful and honest personality. They bring out each other's best attributes. That’s the definition of true romance.
I Want You Back puts the characters in hilariously adult situations. A scene with Emma, Anne, and Logan is comedy gold. Manny Jacinto, who was superb as the dumb but lovable Jason in NBC’s “The Good Place”, nearly steals the show. Logan’s subplot directing a bunch of kids in “Little Shop of Horrors” while entertaining Emma’s advances had me laughing out loud. He makes up for Scott Eastwood’s total lack of charisma as Noah. Eastwood has movie-star looks, but certainly lacks the talent of his co-stars.
There’s never any doubt about the eventual outcome of a romantic comedy. A happy ending is always guaranteed. I Want You Back takes a few winding twists and turns to get there. The plot is not entirely predictable. Emma and Peter don’t easily fall into each other's arms. The final act wards off a sappy resolve with just the right amount of angst and tension. I Want You Back is produced by The Safran Company, The Walk-Up Company, and Amazon Studios. It will stream exclusively this February 11th on Prime Video.
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