I WANT YOU BACK (2022)
Starring Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Scott Eastwood, Manny Jacinto, Clark Backo, Gina Rodriguez, Mason Gooding, Dylan Gelula, Jami Gertz, Isabel May, Giselle Torres, Luke David Blumm, Jordan Carlos, Midori Francis, Quinn Cooke, Claudia Rocafort, Kysen Acevedo, Lauren Halperin, Thy Bui, Betsy Sligh, Braxton Alexander and Pete Davidson.
Screenplay by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger.
Directed by Jason Orley.
Distributed by Amazon Studios. 111 minutes. Rated R.
There is a long-forgotten 1997 film called Addicted to Love which is one of my all-time guilty pleasure favorites. In it, two people (Matthew Broderick and Meg Ryan) meet while stalking their exes – who left them to hook up together. Even though they realize they are very different, they have a mutual goal – to break the new couple up and get their exes back. Therefore, they use subterfuge, spying, misinformation and break several laws to try to tear those two apart.
Upon reading a description of I Want You Back, I was immediately reminded of Addicted to Love. Here also, two recent dumpees (Charlie Day and Jenny Slate) meet and team together to sabotage their exes’ current relationship (although this time out, the two exes are not dating each other). They use lots of questionable tactics to throw a monkey wrench in their exes’ happiness. In both, the woman is tougher and more jaded than the man, who is a bit more of a romantic. Both films are even named after an old pop song.
Sure, there are some differences. Addicted to Love takes place in a gritty area of New York, I Want You Back is in sun-dappled suburban Georgia. In fact, just in general, Addicted to Love is probably a darker film. Still, it is a marvelously relatable and fun story idea. I Want You Back is not quite as good as Addicted to Love, but it’s still a lot of fun.
While I say that I Want You Back is generally a lighter film, it does have some dark patches as well – for example, one of the heroes setting up a failed threesome to break up one of the couples, and another one mistakenly doing molly with some high schoolers.
However, no matter how cynical it sometimes becomes, I Want You Back does tend to have a good-hearted openness to the power of love and the power of survival.
We meet Peter (Day) and Emma (Slate) as they are concurrently getting dumped by their long-time significant others. Peter’s girlfriend high-school-teacher Anne (Gina Rodriguez) leaves him because he is too safe and settled – she wants a little spark in her life. Emma’s fitness trainer beau Noah (Scott Eastwood) has the exact opposite problem, he’s ready to settle down and Emma is still figuring things out.
They quickly learn through social media that both things were mere excuses – they both had met other people. However, instead of being angry that they were cheated on, that just makes the two more determined to win their former lover back.
They become friends through their mutual heartache, and soon stumble upon the idea of using the other to break things up and swoop in to pick up the pieces.
Despite the slightly edgy circumstance and some offbeat plot threads, I Want You Back is a pretty standard variety rom com, where true love may indeed win the day. And, honestly, if you don’t guess what the ending will be about a half hour in, you haven’t seen enough romantic comedies.
Even with its spiky edges, I Want You Back is a terrific valentine for the lovelorn.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 12, 2022.