I WANT YOU BACK Is A Charming Rom-Com Led By Two Lovely Stars
Jason Orley has returned with another film about a set of adults who are in the midst of an early-life crisis. Dealing with dual break-ups which are never easy, the two lead characters concoct a plan that is as sociopathic as Mrs. Doubtfire yet as remarkably cute as When Harry Met Sally. I Want You Back is a comfort movie that takes pleasure in being content with our current lives. Yet, as we see, that often leaves us overlooking what can be directly in front of us. While it may feel like a run of the mill rom-com at times, it’s important to look at just how much works so well about this movie. Led with more chemistry than many films both of its nature and beyond, Jenny Slate and Charlie Day are fantastic. It’s great to see them thrive in roles aside from what they’re so well known for, and one could only hope they continue down this path.
This being Jason Orley’s second feature, I do consider it to be an improvement, even as a fan of Big Time Adolescence. The most crucial element feels like it came directly from the script. It’s so easy to fall into a routine, and there’s nothing wrong with embracing that. With routine comes a calming sense of ease, and many yearn for a feeling of peace amidst the chaos that is daily life. Yet as humans, on some level, we all desire change in some form, even if subconsciously. We may find ourselves attempting spontaneity in adventures outdoors, or meeting strangers in clubs, or even starting a new book. And it’s all about finding the balance between this and what makes us feel comfortable. Learning how those calm moments can help us appreciate a spur of the moment decision, and how soothing relaxation is necessary after moments of catharsis through activity.
And with regards to catharsis, there’s a moment in this film that simply had me at a loss of words. Perhaps it’s my rabid love for the classic musical, but the inclusion of Little Shop of Horrors works far deeper than on a surface level appreciation of the production from Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. As Slate receives an upsettingly brutal phone call moments before a seemingly innocent favor, one of the many overtly sweet moments of this film transpire. As we see the sheer power of the show’s beloved ballad, the film simply becomes a waiting game which allows for bittersweet moments of regret and wonderful moments of the realization we all hope to find. It yearns for the kind of simplicity in life that is found only through the perfect blend of comfort and spontaneity. It’s a scene that hinges on the audience already being in love with the characters, and with ease, Slate suddenly seems possessed by the power of the musical and delivers a genuinely great moment for us to behold.
Bringing up Mrs. Doubtfire earlier was no random example. It’s funny to look back on classic rom-coms and just take a look at how truly insane some of the premises are for these beloved films. Obviously, a level of suspension of disbelief is required, but it’s still a very fun prompt to go back through film history and pick the zaniest you can find. I Want You Back takes advantage of this notion with tongue in cheek fun at the often-sociopathic choices characters make in films like these. The film never lets you forget what these characters are actively trying to sabotage, but just as all the other films pull it off, it’s difficult to care when Slate and Day are utterly charismatic and painfully trying to piece their lives back together.
All in all, I Want You Back is a charming crowd pleaser with a lovable dynamic between two of our most fun celebrities. It’ll have you smiling throughout the entire journey even though you know the destination long before arriving. Comfort movies such as these rely on its audience to understand this notion of feeling rooted in place. Films like these embrace us in a way that makes it feel alright to be going with the motions of the world. It’s never too late to make a change, but it’s also crucial to remember that change isn’t always necessary. Change comes and goes, but sometimes it takes not only losing oneself, but also finding oneself in the process in order to truly move forward. With some truly hysterical scenes and a pair like Slate and Day to lead the film, this shouldn’t be a hard sell to throw on and feel its warm embrace.
I Want You Back will premiere exclusively on Prime Video February 11, 2022 in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.