Review by Sean Boelman
In February while nearing Valentine’s Day, studios and streamers release a slew of romantic comedies to capitalize on the fact that love is in the air this time of year. The Jenny Slate and Charlie Day-starring I Want You Back is significantly better than a majority of the genre’s output for years, with a fantastically funny script and a cast with extraordinarily good chemistry.
The film follows two people who, after having recently broken up with their respective partners, team up in an attempt to sabotage their exes’ new relationships. It’s a high-concept rom-com the likes of which we have seen many times before, but Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger’s script is witty and tongue-in-cheek enough to feel refreshing nevertheless.
It’s also an extremely well-paced movie, which is surprising given the fact that the runtime nears two hours. Aptaker and Berger use parallel storytelling very nicely, and even though it may not be the most intricate use of the narrative device, it makes even the most conventional of the scenes in the film feel funny and suspenseful.
There are some great comedic bits in the movie. Orley really knows how to use his stars’ strengths to achieve the best possible results, directing them in a way that takes the somewhat standard beats and making them hilarious. It has some laugh-out-loud moments that are really wholesome, and others that are a bit on the edgier side.
One of the biggest successes in the film is getting the audience to be invested in almost every aspect of the web of relationships. Although there is one character who is significantly less likable than the rest, that seems to be the intention, and the rest of the characters are extremely charming.
The cast of the movie is also consistently good. Although some of the more comedic-leaning moments are Charlie Day doing his usual schtick, he also gets to do something a lot more grounded for part of the film. Jenny Slate, on the other hand, isn’t really doing her usual at all. And Scott Eastwood is better than he’s ever been, playing the sweet-hearted handsome guy.
The movie has a very threadbare style, but that can be expected of a mainstream romantic comedy. However, that doesn’t mean that the film is lacking in energy. The soundtrack does a great job of incorporating catchy tunes in a way that keeps the mood light and has the viewer having fun.
There is an ineffable charm to I Want You Back, the simply delightful nature of the movie being just what the season calls for. It’s reminiscent of Friends with Benefits and Forgetting Sarah Marshall in the way that it is so tongue-in-cheek, and it earns its spot among those modern classics.
I Want You Back hits Prime Video on February 11.