I Want You Back
Dumped by their respective significant others, Peter (Charlie Day) and Emma (Jenny Slate) find friendship and comfort together. As their relationship blossoms, each plots to break up their ex’s current romance in hopes of getting back together with them. With some very “car crash” writing that’s so hard to look away from, I Want You Back is for the hopeless romantic, and anybody else stuck in the floating abyss of adulthood.
The film begins by cross-cutting between two break-ups. This introduction works to highlight the key players of the storyline. It also foreshadows the events of the climax, especially the congregation of different people connected through the thread of Peter and Emma’s scheme. Meanwhile, the oscillation between two parallel scenes sets a precedent for I Want You Back’s editing style. Symmetry is typical throughout, used to elucidate contrast between the different experiences of the two main characters, as well as create separation and unity.
Day and Slate are at the top of their comedic game. While their onscreen chemistry isn’t anything groundbreaking, they do well to keep the romantic build between their characters believable. They’re much better on their own when interacting with the supporting cast. Slate’s performance as Emma in particular is charming and seductive, but also perfectly captures those lost and struggling with adulthood. Day also does his best work as Peter when interacting with Emma’s ex Noah (Scott Eastwood) and his own ex, Anne (Gina Rodriguez).
Running for almost two hours, I Want You Back overextends its runtime by adding multiple montages. While there’s nothing wrong with using them to help smooth out the storytelling and transition easily through time, most of these sequences feel like filler. The picture also tends to subvert expectations, whether in the trajectory of the jokes or in how events unfold. One key example is the lack of a definitive ending, which leaves the last few minutes of the film feeling quite rushed. However, there is closure for all the ex-couples involved, and while Peter and Emma together remain a question, there is a hint of an obvious answer after all.
I Want You Back is released on Amazon Prime Video on 11th February 2022.
Watch the trailer for I Want You Back here: