Newly dumped thirty-somethings Peter and Emma team up to sabotage their exes’ new relationships and win them back for good.

Editing: Jonathan Schwartz
Siddhartha Khosla

Cast:  Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Scott Eastwood, Gina Rodriguez, Manny Jacinto, Clark Backo, Luke David Blumm, Pete Davidson

Directors: Jason Orley
Writers: Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger
Cinematography: Brian Burgoyne

Peter (Charlie Day) meets Emma (Jenny Slate) as he’s sobbing in the stairway of his work building. He’s a mess following his breakup with Anne (Gina Rodriguez) earlier in the week, but just as he longs for answers to “why, god, why did she leave me?!” Emma is wondering how she too got dumped by her ex, Noah (Scott Eastwood). If ever there was a starting point for a great friendship, it’s sharing tears in a dirty stairway over your exes before going out for drinks and karaoke. 

As Peter and Emma’s friendship grows and they begin to learn and trust one another more, they strike, what they think is, gold when Emma has an idea guaranteed to win back their respective partners. Emma will volunteer at Anne’s school where her new boyfriend, Logan (Manny Jacinto), works as the drama teacher, and she’ll work to prove him unfaithful. While at the same time, Peter shall inject himself into Noah’s life, become friends, and push him away from his new partner, Ginny (Clark Backo). 

As a viewer, this plan will obviously come unravelling at some stage. It feels very unethical to lie and attempt to trick people into falling back in love with the person they just left, and I quickly began to feel bad for Noah and Anne. Especially Noah, who Eastwood portrays as such a loveable dude, and he genuinely cares about Peter as their friendship grows. One of the film’s highlights is when the two end up at a party where a character played by Pete Davidson is daring him to jump out of the house into a jacuzzi. It’s not that I thought Peter and Emma were terrible people either, they were acting very insane to deal with a breakup, but Noah is by far the person I wanted to get hurt the least in this movie.

Things on Emma’s side of the deal are a little less likable or exciting. While it’s amusing seeing Slate pretend to be a theatre super-fan, I wouldn’t say I liked Anne enough to ever buy into Peter, wanting to get back together with her. At the same time, while played ridiculously by Jacinto, Logan is written as a one-note joke that wears off pretty quickly to become annoying. Emma does strike up a friendship with a young kid named Trevor (Luke David Blumm), which makes for some heartfelt moments between the jokes. 

The standout of I Want You Back is the chemistry between Charlie Day and Jenny Slate, which is impeccable. The two bounce off one another in rapid succession. It isn’t a role that Day is entirely out of his wheelhouse with, but as if written for him, all the jokes fit his delivery and comedic timing perfectly. Hopefully, I Want You Back can be a showcase for Slate, whose two-episode appearances in Girls has stuck with me for years, and she’s seen some supporting roles in animated roles primarily over the last few years. And let’s not forget her role in Venom

Although I Want You Back may seem somewhat predictable at first, the direction the film takes, paired with plenty of laughs and having a relatively balanced romance that doesn’t fall into stereotypes, starring fantastic leads, make this a must-watch romantic comedy for this Valentines season.