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Amazon's I Want You Back Reviews Have Arrived, Check Out What Critics Have To Say About The Charlie Day Romantic Comedy

Charlie Day and Jenny Slate as Peter and Emma in I Want You Back.
(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes I Want You Back, a romantic comedy featuring two familiar names in the comedy world — Charlie Day and Jenny Slate. In the film, the leading duo both find themselves single and unable to get over their exes, so they pair up to destroy their ex-partners’ new relationships. Critics have seen the movie, which is slated for release on Amazon’s Prime Video on Friday, February 11, so let’s consult the reviews to see if you’d like to make this movie part of your holidayplans.

Charlie Day and Jenny Slate star as Peter and Emma, who are determined to win back their exes, Anne (Gina Rodriguez) and Noah (Scott Eastwood), respectively. To be sure, rom-com hilarity ensues, but let’s take a look at what the critics had to say, starting with our own CinemaBlend review. Eric Eisenberg rates the movie 2.5 stars out of 5, saying despite Day and Slate’s chemistry, I Want You Back fails to elevate to anything more than your average rom-com:

Both Day and Slate are both equally great in the film, and they continue to prove themselves great comedic leads – but it’s also hard not to notice that the film never takes full advantage of its stars’ phenomenal skills. It’s funny, but more ‘chuckle’ funny than ‘can’t catch my breath’ funny, and while it never feels trite or manipulative as a romance, it is overloaded with clichés and well-worn plotting that prevents it from ever feeling distinctive or particularly engaging. You want it to be more because of the talent involved, but it falls short of expectations.

Kate Erbland of IndieWire agrees that the movie doesn’t quite know what to do with its stars and grades the Jason Orley-directed film a C+. However, she disagrees the leading couple has good chemistry, saying they suffer from lack of screen time together:

It’s the old ‘such terrible food, and in such small portions’ problem: Slate and Day don’t have the appropriate zip to be a cheer-for-them romantic couple, but we also rarely see them together enough to ever get invested in the possibility they could work out.

Other critics find comfort in I Want You Back's not trying to break new ground and staying so firmly in the rom-com lane. Lovia Gyarkye of THR says the movie’s self awareness and the actors’ performances make for a breezy and charming viewing experience:

Written by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger (This is Us), I Want You Back is an earnest and honeyed tale of audaciously pursuing lost love. The narrative cruises to a satisfying finish. The jokes go down easy. The characters grow in predictable directions. The film rarely strays from its genre’s conventions, and that’s not a complaint. Sometimes staying in one lane yields the most gratifying results.

Courtney Howard of Variety praises the “stellar” cinematography, editing and score, which help to set the tone for the characters’ stories, but she says the movie hits a lull in the second act — particularly when the lead duo don’t share the screen: 

The midsection plateaus when it should percolate with the pair’s plan taking form, or rather not quite manifesting correctly. Still, despite some pacing issues and predictable plotlines, the film keeps us wholeheartedly engaged with well-drawn, well-performed characters, grounded shenanigans and sweet, sentimental commentary on heartache.

Lena Wilson of The Wrap says I Want You Back is easy to like, and the skilled crew avoids the more problematic tropes sometimes found in rom-coms. It’s not without its faults, Wilson says, but Charlie Day and Jenny Slate don’t disappoint:

Screenwriters Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger ('Love, Simon') are no strangers to the subversive rom-com, and capable directing and editing by Jason Orley ('Big Time Adolescence') and Jonathan Schwartz ('Stuber'), respectively, set leads Jenny Slate and Charlie Day up for maximum hilarity. The film ultimately feels a bit underdeveloped, but this seems a small price to pay for a romantic comedy with zero misogyny and relatively realistic characters.

The critics all seem to agree that Charlie Day and Jenny Slate do their part as the romantic leads – and nearly every critic shouts out Slate’s show-stealing performance of “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors – so if you can get past the expected rom-com tropes, it sounds like I Want You Back likely isn’t a bad option for your Valentine’s weekend agenda. 

I Want You Back will be available for streaming Friday, February 11 on Amazon’s Prime Video. If you’re a fan of Jenny Slate, check out some other great movie performances from the actress, as well as some of other movies on Amazon Prime. Also be sure to check out our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to see what else is coming soon.

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.