I Want You Back (2022) Review
SCREENWRITERS Issac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger are no strangers to the subversive rom-com, with 2018's Love, Simon proving to be as heartfelt as it was hilarious. The duo have returned to their roots in I Want You Back; a story that follows a very similar structure, but instead decides to address the aftermath of relationships in a more "by-the-numbers" romantic comedy.
After finding empathy in the fact they've both been recently abandoned, newly dumped strangers Peter (Charlie Day) and Emma (Jenny Slate) decide to team up and sabotage their exes', Anne (Gina Rodriguez) and Noah (Scott Eastwood) respectively, new relationships through manipulation and diversions in order to win back their love.
Sometimes the most simple stories are the most effective ones, especially when it comes to romantic comedies; I Want You Back continues this trend with a plot that may feel a bit too elementary for some, but follows through with all the standard clichés come to be expected in your average rom-com, also while bucking the trend with abnormal elements not often represented in even the most subversive love stories.
Comedy wise the film utilises wisecracking one-liners and commonplace character tropes in an adequate manner, whilst also delivering a minimal amount of standout character moments in the process. Many jokes are met with awkward moments of silence where laughter should be, as well as antics that are just straight up unfunny, leading to an unfortunate disconnect between viewer and actor, which is a real shame as the jokes that do land are incredibly hilarious as they're not only funny from a jocular standpoint, but also manage to be fantastic junctures of character development that upsurge the comical and friendly infatuation being showcased between leading actors Charlie Day and Jenny Slate.
Day and Slate are, as expected, the best thing about I Want You Back; their abilities to play off one another so effortlessly is nothing short of marvellous. The long-standing comedians are hilarious separately, but together, the two create moments of pure emotion and humour that is so realistic to the point where you feel genuinely concerned that their inevitable, glaringly evident fates at the end of the feature will not come to fruition. Rodriguez and Eastwood play their roles to the best of their abilities, being unpleasant when presented as uncaring exes, yet likeable when shown to be people with real emotions and relatable problems, an obvious trait that many rom-com writers fail to recognise when formulating even the most basic of scripts.
If you're going into I Want You Back with high expectations, prepare to be disappointed; the film offers plenty of humorous and heartfelt character moments that showcase their likeable tendencies, but sadly, there is little else you'll find buried underneath what, in reality, is a basic rom-com which sticks to a straightforward story. Charlie Day and Jenny Slate improve the film significantly thanks to their effortless comedic ways, and despite Issac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger doing their very best to subvert expectations by implementing meaningful moments of affection, I Want You Back can't escape the stigma of what it truly is; an okay movie.