A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Redemption, honesty, and forgiveness are all themes. Encourages learning from your mistakes and having open and honest conversations about expectations, especially when it comes to romance/relationships. Deception is a big part of plot but is shown to have negative consequences.
Positive Role Models
Emma and Peter are both kind and supportive, even though they plan something sneaky and vengeful/immoral together. They eventually see the error of their ways and how they've hurt each other and their exes and ask for forgiveness. They also realize what it is they want in a partnership.
Two main characters are White. Diversity in supporting characters, including interracial couples: Anne is presented as Latino, Ginny is Black, and Logan is Asian, although race/ethnicity isn't a theme or topic of conversation. A middle school student has two dads.
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Violence & Scariness
One character punches another in the face. Peter drops a barbell on himself at the gym, but it's played for laughs. A middle school musical production of Little Shop of Horrors uses a gratuitous amount of fake blood on stage. Arguments/confrontations.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few love scenes and shots of couples kissing passionately. A woman pretends to be interested in having a threesome with a man and another woman. Both women kiss the man, and everyone ends up partially undressed before it's broken up. A man is stuck in a hiding place while a couple makes love on the bed. It happens off camera, but the trapped character can hear what's going on. As he tries to leave his hiding spot, he's surprised by a man's naked body standing right in front of him. It's clearly implied that he saw the other man's penis. Camera shows the man's naked chest, legs, butt. Emma's roommates can be heard having loud sex (moaning and "dirty talk") while she and Peter hang out in the dining room. The roommates later come out of the room; she's wearing a long shirt and boxers, he's shirtless. A few sexual or suggestive conversations, including a middle school student talking about his dad's sex life.
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More than a dozen uses of "f--k" or "f---ing," even more of "s--t," "a--hole," "d--k," "screw," "damn," "ass," etc. Lots of exclamatory uses of "Christ," "oh my God," "Jesus," "Holy s--t." Insults/crude words like "narc," "stupid," "horny," "loser," "idiot." A 12-year-old student says "f--k," "f---ing," "s--t," "banging," and "blow jobs" to an adult.
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Products & Purchases
Social media/tech is featured in the movie, as it's how the protagonists track their exes: Instagram, iPhone, MacBook. Emma eats Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink frequently, several times to excess. Without realizing it, two adult men party with underage women -- drinking (including shots) and taking Ecstasy with them. Two characters smoke cigarettes together until they cough and question why they're smoking. A middle school boy puts an unlit cigarette in his mouth; an adult scolds him to put it away.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that I Want You Back is a romantic comedy starring Charlie Day and Jenny Slate as two recently dumped strangers who promise to help sabotage their exes' new relationships to give each other the chance to reunite with their "true loves." Expect mature language, sexual situations, and substance use. There are more than a dozen uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "d--k," and more. Sex scenes aren't overly graphic but do include shirtless men and women in bras, as well as the start of a threesome and a shot of a man's bare butt (it's implied that he's fully nude). There's one sucker punch, and lots of obviously fake blood during a middle school musical production. Adult characters drink a lot, sometimes to excess, and on one occasion two men drink and take drugs while hanging out with young women whom they think are in their early 20s but are actually underaged high schoolers. Adults try to smoke but remember they hate it. In one scene, an adult tells a middle schooler to take a cigarette out of his mouth. Although the main characters plan something sneaky and vengeful together, they eventually see the error of their ways, and the movie ultimately encourages having open and honest conversations about expectations, especially when it comes to romance and relationships. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Day and Slate shine in this charming romcom about two people who slowly fall for each other while sabotaging their exes' current relationships. There's a sweet and substantive undertone to screenwriters Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger's story, even if it's about a deceitful scheme to break up two couples. Slate and Day aren't just talented comic actors, they also have the emotional range to show how someone who's been recently dumped feels lost, confused, and depressed. There's an authenticity to the comedy beyond the surface element of how both main characters Instagram-stalk and find their exes. Director Jason Orley explores the many issues that come with dating in your 30s and the way that complacency and the fear of starting over can cause people to stay in incompatible relationships.
Peter isn't a traditionally "hot and handsome" catch like personal trainer Noah; he's a generous-hearted man who's good with kids, works with the elderly, and convinces a friend not to drunk-dial her ex-boyfriend. (Emma describes him as a slow burn that grows on you, and it's obvious from their first meeting that they'll end up together.) And Emma is vibrant, sexy, and funny, if a bit slow to launch out of her 20s. Their character development is downright moving, especially as they truly examine how the past relationships they're desperate to get back might not have been the right ones after all. Romcoms are easy to dismiss as formulaic and predictable, but I Want You Back is neither. Even though audiences may know the end game, the story is deeper and sweeter than is typical for the genre, without devolving into cheesy or sentimental. And that final scene? It's simply perfect.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.