I Want You Back, a Rom-Com for Valentine’s

Rom-coms are typically cast for matinee idols, movie stars who can make us cry and laugh in equal measure, but who are otherwise foreign to sitcoms or stand-up comedy. When Judd Apatow took over the genre in 2004, suddenly rom-coms were being led by comedians, and they made for some of the best and most successful ever until comedy generally took a nosedive to the niche corner of streaming ten or twelve years later. There, the matinee idols returned, and now it’s suddenly new again to find bonafide comedians headlining a rom com. Charlie Day and Jenny Slate are natural comedians, and their comic timing, creativity, and sheer energy are infectious. They make a perfect couple as two strangers who become friends after their exes break their hearts and break it off. Together they hatch a plan to win them back and, eventually, shenanigans ensue. I Want You Back may be as predictable as they come, but it’s much funnier than most rom-coms, emphasizing the laughs over the love of it all. Gina Rodriguez, Scott Eastwood, and Manny Jacinto in particular make good as the two exes and a sexy middle school drama teacher. The latter is quite funny as a pretentious New York transplant who thinks a junior high production of Little Shop of Horrors can break boundaries and reinvigorate his career as a stage director. But it’s Slate and Day who tickle us, charm us, even in the littlest of moments, and make this one of the best romantic comedies in years.

Grade: B

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