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Jenny Slate, Charlie Day power 'I Want You Back' with romantic hilarity

Phil on Film
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Posted at 12:14 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 12:14:47-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — It's usually the "comedy" aspect of a romantic comedy that's tough to nail. "I Want You Back" rakes in the laughs with breezy ease.

The film opens on Prime Video on Friday.

The romantic comedy follows the fates of two acquaintances who make a pact to ruin their exes' relationships in hopes of driving their former lovers back in their arms.

Charlie Day is Peter, a manchild who's content to grind out his days at a job he doesn't like and waste his evenings on trash TV. He's dumped by Anne (Gina Rodriguez), looking for someone more adventurous. Peter teams up with the flight of Emma (Jenny Slate), who is hung out to dry by the self-absorbed Noah (Scott Eastwood).

The scheme: Jenny will seduce Anne's new boyfriend, while Peter will befriend Noah, coaxing him to cheat on his new girlfriend.

What could go wrong? Everything you can think of and much more.

The plot has hints of "Cruel Intentions" and "Strangers on a Train."

In his feature film debut, director Jason Orley shows a finely-tuned ear and eye for setting up entertaining scenarios that pay off repeatedly. It helps that Day and Slate are two of the most naturally funny actors around. Both step out of their comfort zones to play more mature characters than they've previously encountered.

While both Peter and Emma are grounded enough to be believable for dramatic purposes, both retain enough wild card zaniness to keep things lively.

Eastwood and Rodriguez are solid in workmanlike, thankless supporting roles, content to set up the stars for the bigger laughs.

The slick script guides the film to its heights, with its impressive range of emotional impact and observational comedy, making "I Want You Back" both an excellent date movie as well as a consoling break-up movie.

It's just suitable for whatever emotional rollercoaster awaits you this Valentine's Day.

RATING: 3.5 stars out of 4.

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