When considering a conventional romantic comedy, it’s the details that matter since the overall plot must follow a predetermined trajectory. With When Harry Met Sally, one of the best traditional rom-coms of the last four decades, there was no doubt Harry and Sally would be a couple by the time the end credits roll; the question was whether the journey to get them to this point was worth it. The same question can be asked about Jason Orley I want you to come back with a similar (but not as emphatic) answer. I want you to come back scratches a particular Valentine’s Day itch in that it provides a dollop of romance to go along with some laughs. He fails to stick the landing but only loses a few points for this faux pas. (The last ten minutes are confusing and the Big Romantic Gesture™ is rather weak.)
The basic premise here is that Charlie Day’s Peter and Jenny Slate’s Emma don’t know each other until they meet each other so cute in the stairwell of a skyscraper where they both work. Both were dumped by their respective relatives: Peter by Anne (Gina Rodriguez), who had been her “plus one” for six years, and Emma by her boyfriend of 18 months, Noah (Scott Eastwood). Anne is now with college drama teacher Logan (Manny Jacinto) and Noah is sleeping with Ginny (Clark Backo). But, in that fateful first meeting where Peter and Emma realize they have a similar ex-relationship problem, a friendship is born. He comes with a plan.
The two want to return to their old relationships, despite being dumped (and, at least in Peter’s case, humiliated). To facilitate this, Emma offers to seduce Logan. Since she believes that Peter won’t stand a chance with Ginny (because Noah is a handsome kid and Peter is…not one), the idea is for Peter to befriend Noah and, once that he has won her trust, whispers things in her ear that will change. take him away from Ginny and back to Emma. However, as the star couple of this rom-com is Peter and Emma, we know they will develop feelings for each other and the success of the film is mostly built on the strength of that relationship. Orley and his screenwriters (Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger) don’t strike gold, but they don’t strike either. I want you to come back is a better than average entry but not stellar in the genre.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about I want you to come back
(aside from a really weird use of Little Shop of Horrors‘ “Suddenly Seymour”) is that it’s really funny. Most rom-coms loosely tackle humor while focusing on romance. Here the balance is shifted. There’s enough chemistry between Day and Slate to get us to root for their pairing, but both are comedians by trade and that serves them well. Slate gets his best scenes during an awkward threesome as hell, and Day’s funniest moments come when he’s trying to find a hiding place in a room devoid of the usual options.
To his credit, I want you to come back goes against the usual trend in not turn the two exes into assholes. The two are quite likable and I can imagine some viewers would rather Peter reunite with Anne than Emma. The scenario is sometimes uneven. The ending doesn’t work as well as it should, there’s a really weird subplot with Emma befriending a pugnacious middle schooler, and Peter’s last ditch effort to salvage his end of the bargain is at best. half cooked. Additionally, while the film has just enough profanity to merit an R rating, it fails to take advantage of the more advanced opportunities available by bypassing PG-13. A proposed threesome and Peter’s drug-fueled walk on the wild side is no saltier than one might find in an SNL skit (I mention this as a nod to Slate’s stint on the show from 2009-2010).
Emma de Slate is sympathetic in the modern Diane Keaton way: competent but sometimes a bit frazzled. Day tones down some of his more over-the-top features in order to make Peter relatable. Two of the three supporting actors — Rodriguez and Eastwood — fit in well with the stars. Clark Backo has a smaller role, so except for a few key scenes, she’s on the outside more often. Unlike many big-screen outings for former SNL cast members, this one isn’t filled with cameos. The only one belongs to Pete Davidson, and it’s probably because of his close ties to the director.
In the 2020s, the mature rom-com is an endangered species with most rom-coms featuring protagonists in their teens and twenties. Day is in her 40s and Slate is seven years younger. They are therefore atypical cinephiles – less cursed and more pragmatic; it enriches their conversations. I want you to come back heads to Amazon’s Prime Video in time for Valentine’s Day and it’s worth at least a small bouquet of flowers to show off the things he’s pulling off.
I want you back (USA, 2022)