Home » ‘I Want You Back’ Review – An “Almost” Film that Welcomes Jenny Slate and Charlie Day into Rom-Coms

‘I Want You Back’ Review – An “Almost” Film that Welcomes Jenny Slate and Charlie Day into Rom-Coms

by Courtney Le

February, the month of love, comes and goes, but love remains all the same. Unfortunately, Jenny Slate and Charlie Day’s characters, Emma and Peter, can’t say they have the same experience. Two employees that work in the same building, Emma and Peter are broken up with at the same time by their longtime partners, Noah (Scott Eastwood) and Anne (Gina Rodriguez). They swim in their sorrows, but in romantic comedy fashion, have their meet-cute and plot to sabotage their lovers’ new relationships to win them back. Their adventures involve everything from a middle-school adaptation of Little Shop of Horrors directed by Manny Jacinto’s Logan to a drugged-up Charlie Day jumping from a two-story building.

Quirky, fun, and oddly inspiring, Slate and Day make promising debuts in their first leading roles in a romantic comedy. While not groundbreaking, the film creates a good baseline for Slate and Day in the genre. The audience gets a chance to see a different side of the stars, one that can successfully play the romcom part: a careful balancing act between the overly dramatic and comedic. The film almost defines a romantic comedy, it utilizes Slate and Day’s over-the-top comedy styles and counteracts them with serious, heavy scenes talking about everything from growing up to adultery. The classically drawn out build-up, filled with absurdities, also weighs in on self discovery and, of course, the characters falling a little bit more in love with each other.

Jenny Slate and Charlie Day’s characters as a couple were not a prediction on anyone’s bingo card, but it nearly works. As individuals, their lovable wits and hijinks bring light to the screen. Together, platonically, they create an unstoppable, hilarious force that can only ever be (as described by Logan) insane. Unfortunately, while Emma and Peter are lovable, their romantic connection doesn’t have the spark that makes you want them to get together as soon as possible. In fact, it’d be completely fine if they didn’t end up together at all- a red flag of the romantic comedy genre. While the film tries to set the couple up for success, it falls flat because of its heavy focus on the side stories. Ignoring the romantic aspects of Emma and Peter’s relationship in favor of moving the story forward, it becomes hard to connect the two together as something more. Although the core plot lines are hilarious, inspirational, and unique, the romance feels forgotten and hastily added. Practically pieced together at the concluding minutes of the film, Emma and Peter’s affection feels cheesy and ill-fitting, defeating the purpose of a romantic film.

Fortunately, Jenny Slate and Charlie Day excel despite the sparkless romance. Their characters are well-written and well-cast, not to mention performed excellently. From Slate’s convincing tears to Day’s gentle demeanor, they break through their typecasts of aggressive, wild characters. There is a welcomed place for both Slate and Day in the genre, despite the film’s slip-ups and let downs.

In the end, it can best be described as an “almost.” It nearly hits the mark because the overall messages were just about right and the romantic aspect was almost captured. However, almosts don’t add up to a perfect, and the closing of the film leaves behind dissatisfaction. Tying the storyline’s ends loosely, the audience is left wanting more in a way that’s not begging for a sequel. There’s a puzzle piece missing that needs to be added to fulfill the romantic comedy checklist: romance.

★★★ ½

I Want You Back is availabe to stream on Amazon Prime now

Follow creative director Courtney Le on Twitter: @nidavellir_

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