I Want You Back may not present top-tier comedy or romance, but its exploration of the value placed on relationships is where it shines.


Director(s) Jason Orley
Screenplay By Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger
Date Released 2/11/2022
Where To Watch Amazon Prime
Genre(s) Comedy, Romance
Duration 1 Hour 56 Minutes
Content Rating Rated R
Noted Cast
Noah Scott Eastwood
Emma Jenny Slate
Anne Gina Rodriguez
Peter Charlie Day
Trevor Luke David Blumm
Logan Manny Jacinto
Ginny Clark Backo

Film Summary

After 18 months with Noah, Emma got broken up with, and after 6 years with Anne, Peter got broken up with – and both are devastated. But, with discovering one another in a staircase at the building they work in, they trauma bond and come up with a plan to get their exes back – even if it means doing the kind of things that would be a secret hanging over their heads.

Cast & Character Guide

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.

Noah

A personal trainer, who is also into nutrition, Noah is at that point in life where he is ready to settle down and doesn’t seem to think Emma is the one to do that with.

Emma

Emma (Jenny Slate) talking to Peter
Emma (Jenny Slate)

Emma is a bit stuck right now. She dropped out of school and has been a dentist’s receptionist ever since, with no real idea of what she wants to do long-term. All she knows is that with the longest relationship she has ever been in over, life sucks.

Anne

Anne, a middle school English teacher, is unhappy because she didn’t follow her dreams of becoming an actress. Which makes being with Peter, who too has set aside his dreams for financial stability, frustrating.

Peter

Peter (Charlie Day) thinking
Peter (Charlie Day)

With spending a lot of time with his grandparents, Peter dreamed of providing the elderly with nice and affordable homes. However, he ended up working for a place that exploits the elderly and is currently looking to cut costs by lowering the quality of their meals.

Trevor

12-year-old Trevor is dealing with his parents having issues and not having anyone, adult or otherwise, to talk to.

Logan

Logan is a middle school drama teacher who wishes he was out working in Broadway but is making due working a stable job at a school.

Ginny

Ginny is Noah’s new girlfriend, who has a successful pie shop.

Other Noteworthy Information

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Nudity (Male butt), drinking, smoking, tame sexual content, cursing (but not overly vulgar), mild violence

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. What led to Noah and Emma getting together? Never mind Peter and Anne?

Review

Highlights

Trevor and Emma’s Storyline

Trevor (Luke David Blumm) talking to Emma
Trevor (Luke David Blumm)

Noah breaks up with Emma because she doesn’t know what she is doing in life, and Noah wants to settle down and get married. So while Emma is working on breaking up Anne and her new boyfriend Logan, she joins Logan’s middle school production of Little Shop of Horrors and, in the process, meets Trevor. He is a kid dealing with his parent’s relationship collapsing, and I’d argue his relationship with Emma steals the movie.

In seeing Emma with this vulnerable kid who doesn’t seem to have friends, just angst and anger, the film finally presents a quality match and story you want to see more of. Thus explaining why Emma decides she wants to work with children more.

Realizing It’s Less About The Other Person And More So About Not Wanting To Be Single Or Feeling Like You Wasted Time

One of the main takeaways from I Want You Back is understanding that relationships survive and thrive when you feel your partner compliments or inspires you. Take Anne, for instance. She dumped Peter because he was stuck working for an exploitative nursing home company that didn’t align with his dream that gave seniors dignity with their living conditions. He had become complacent, so she felt she had taken on the same attitude about life and thus wanted out. Hence her transitioning to Logan, who was more out there, experimental, and she thought his way of living life could rub off on her.

Logan (Manny Jacinto) and Anne (Gina Rodriguez) being asked if they want to do a threesome
Logan (Manny Jacinto) and Anne (Gina Rodriguez)

Then, when it comes to Emma and Noah, you see the same thing. Emma’s life became stagnant after her dad died. Hence her living in the same place she did when she dropped out of college to take care of her dad. Meanwhile, Noah is learning more and more about fitness and nutrition, which are two things Emma has no interest in. So beyond not wanting to be single, what is it that is supposed to keep them together? Especially when times are rough?

That is the driving message behind I Want You Back – don’t settle for someone over shallow reasons. Think about whether your humor is the same, your interests in sex, whether their goals, even if in a field beyond your comprehension, is something that drives curiosity and ultimately you feel you can support. Don’t just focus on what can initially attract you but have you stick around long term and have you fall in love with them over and over. Otherwise, you’ll start to regret or even resent them as they begin to represent all you hate about yourself.

On The Fence

The Romance & The Comedy

While the message it seeks to deliver is quality, none of the matches necessarily make you swoon, and the comedy is only funny if you like Slate or Day’s awkward styles. For when it comes to the romance, the chemistry between most is nil. Even when it comes to Emma and Peter, they seem more like best friends, if not siblings, than two people you could ultimately see dating. Then, when it comes to their exes? There is a need to question how any of those relationships happened and why they lasted as long as they did.

Heck, even when it comes to Noah and his relationship with Ginny, the only relationship which seems to have some kind of compatibility, it works on paper but doesn’t cause butterflies. It leans more towards two Hollywood generic attractive people being together than you really taking note of her love of cooking and his love of nutrition being the foundation of their relationship. A relationship you can see is supposed to look like the ideal compared to everyone else’s situation.

As for the comedy? I can’t really remember one joke or moment that, separated from this movie after going to bed, I can remember. I know you’ll get a lot of awkward moments featuring Slate and Day stumbling over words and struggling to be social, but if their usual shticks don’t do it for you, there aren’t any alternatives here.

Overall

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

What will hinge your enjoyment of I Want You Back is appreciating Day and Slate’s style of humor and realizing this is a movie about what it means to be in a relationship that serves you. I Want You Back is by no means one meant to make you swoon and fall in love with any pairing. If anything, it pushes you to ask questions about current and potential relationships and why you are with this person? Is it because you hate the dating process and being single? Do you rely on a partner to inspire you? Do you find yourself valuing who you are more based on who likes you?

Those questions and more are what make I Want You Back worth seeing and the Trevor and Emma subplot that becomes a major highlight of the movie.

Movie Directory

An old school film reel drawn by artist Dean Nelson.

On The Radar


Ratings

  • Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
  • Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
  • Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
  • Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.

Special Categories/ Tags

  • Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
  • Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
  • Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.
  • Ending Spoilers: Trying to remember how a film ended, or want a different take on the ending, then check out the "ending spoilers" category. 
Title Card - I Want You Back (2022)
I Want You Back (2022) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
Those who aren't looking for a romance movie, but a movie about romance and relationships.
Highlights
Trevor and Emma's Storyline
Realizing It's Less About The Other Person And More So About Not Wanting To Be Single Or Feeling Like You Wasted Time
Disputable
The Romance & The Comedy
80


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Avatar of Amari

I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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