A screwball rom-com.
A screwball rom-com.
|I Want You Back is a sort-of throwback romantic comedy. It meanders a bit before it ends up in screwball comedy territory, but leans into comedy with entertaining plot turns throughout. It’s a rom-com that starts with heartbreak and ponders the depression and loneliness of life before it ever tries selling us on a romance. It balances humour and grief and delivers something that’s funny and sweet.
Directed by: Jason Orley
Screenplay by: Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger
Starring: Jenny Slate and Charlie Day
Emma (Jenny Slate) has just been dumped by Noah (Scott Eastwood) and Peter (Charlie Day) has just been dumped by Anne (Gina Rodriguez). Emma and Peter’s meet-cute is crying in the stairwell in their office building. Noah at least liked Emma, but has found someone he likes more, but Anne pretty much hated Peter and blames him for her complacency in their relationship. Our two heroes are painted as pitiful, which of course Jenny Slate and Charlie Day can play perfectly.
Slate and Day are both very funny, especially when the film finally gets into the comedic plot and they hatch plans to win back each others’ exes. And yes, their plans are exactly as ill-fated as you would imagine. In one such effort, Peter and his new friend Noah go to a not-actually-adults-but-teen-girls party – oops! And Charlie Day has a laugh-out loud delivery of “I’m seventeen” statement and question in one. Meanwhile Emma is busy seducing Anne’s new boyfriend Logan (Manny Jacinto) who is a middle school drama teacher envisioning himself a Broadway director.
The cast is really good. Both Slate and Day can handle the emotional beats of the film as they remain funny. Manny Jacinto, of The Good Place fame, steals his scenes; and if there’s a sequel it needs to just be about him. I would say it should be him finding a girl who isn’t crazy, but the fact that he’s half crazy himself is part of the charm.
As good screwball comedies tend to go, our 6 mis-matched characters find themselves in the same place with limited escape routes and the comedy lives up to expectations.
The movie has distinct Woody Allen vibes which would fare much better in the 90s than now. It has also some slight pacing issues. It slows down a lot at times, but when it’s funny, it moves fast.
I Want You Back is funnier than it is romantic, but it’s also never about the romance. It’s comedy first and it is genuinely funny and very enjoyable.