"You’re f**king my girlfriend, I'm framing your boyfriend, because that's what friends are for." - Peter
Okay, I admit it. I'm a sucker for a well-done romantic comedy. Unfortunately, with all due respect to Rom-Com Con, well-done romantic comedies are hard to find. So, I Want You Back is truly a treat, a charming little movie that delivers laughs without being too mean-spirited.
Trying to succeed in two genres simultaneously (romance and comedy) is challenging. Most are too heavy on the romance (see just about anything on Hallmark Channel), or the jokes don't work. The chemistry has to be there for the romance to be believable, and it has to be genuinely funny. And comedy can be more challenging than it appears. As actor Edmund Gwynn said on his deathbed: "Dying is easy. Comedy is difficult."
That's why I am happy to recommend the surprisingly funny I Want You Back, starring Charlie Day and Jenny Slate. Both are genuinely funny, having proven their talents previously, with Day from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Slate from SNL. The writing is honed to both of their style of comedy (Day being slightly manic and Slate being awkwardly cute), so they are working to their strengths.
I Want You Back is reasonably straightforward in structure: Peter and Emma are strangers who are dumped simultaneously. Their exes have broken up with them and quickly moved on to new relationships. Peter and Emma work in the same building, and they randomly meet up in the hallway. They commiserate and lean on each other until a plan is hatched: Peter will befriend Emma's ex-boyfriend, and Emma will befriend Peter's exes' new boyfriend. The goal is to poison the new relationships, so their exes come running back.
The beauty of I Want You Back is that the romance is there (but not spread on too thick), and comedy is not at the expense of others. It's lighthearted, yet the jokes are funny enough to land solidly. The characters are sympathetic, so you root for them, and Day and Slate do a great job with the material.
It may not be Clueless or even When Harry Met Sally, but I Want You Back is a solid romantic comedy that is kind-hearted and funny. Look for great minor appearances by Pete Davidson and one of our faves, Jami Gertz. (B)
Directed by Jason Orley
Starring Charlie Day, Jenny Slate, Scott Eastwood, Manny Jacinto, Clark Backo, Gina Rodriguez, Pete Davidson, Jami Gertz, Isabel MayGenres: Comedy, Romantic Comedy
Photo: Amazon Studios