I Want You Back Plot Synopsis
Nice-guy Peter is dumped by his girlfriend Anne for being too safe and boring. At the same time, Noah breaks up with his girlfriend Emma, claiming she’s stuck in a rut.
With Emma and Peter both heartbroken, they end up bonding together when they find one another whilst sobbing on the same stairwell at the office building they both work in.
The pair immediately bond over their similar stories and launch a crusade to try and win their exs back. Peter is tasked with befriending Noah and getting in the way of his relationship with Ginny while Emma is on a mission to break up Anne and her new boyfriend Logan.
Does Emma manage to win over Logan?
Emma heads off to seduce Logan, intent on luring him away from Anna, who’s none too happy about Emma getting close to her man. Emma shows up and immediately slots into the middle school theatre production, even going so far as to project out her own sadness in typical musical theatre form – with a big singing number.
This immediately sees Logan taken with her, and after “accidentally” knocking into him in the theatre while holding a book, things are going great between them.
In fact, Emma’s results eventually bear fruit when she asks Logan and Anne to casually engage in a threesome. Although Anne is initially enthusiastic about this, when it comes to the big night, she gets cold feet and realizes she doesn’t want to go through with this.
Anne isn’t as adventurous as she first thought, realizing at this point that she misses Peter’s simplicity, likening him to a piece of toast.
When Emma tells Peter this very news in the diner later that evening, he’s enthusiastic and over the moon. Of course, he immediately gets back with Anne when she rings. But what of Emma?
What happens between Ginny and Noah?
Peter’s plan is not as successful as Emma’s. Knowing there’s no way he’d be able to compete with Noah, he instead decides to strike up a bromance with him at the gym.
Noah ends up working as Peter’s personal trainer and the pair hit it off, becoming friends. After a night out in a club, and a particularly risky encounter with a bunch of 17 year olds at a party, Noah hits a breakthrough. He’s going to propose to Ginny. Oh… oh no.
Peter realizes how bad this is and decides to plant a condom wrapper in Ginny’s house, making Noah out to be a cheat. However, he doesn’t bank on Noah being there and he’s forced to hide. Ginny returns, Noah proposes and Ginny says yes.
This is particularly bittersweet as Peter heads to the diner and gives Emma the bad news. He encourages her that there’s someone out there for her, before leaving Emma to be with Anne.
What changes for Peter and Emma?
During his time with Emma, Peter begins to grow more self-confident. Peter has always had a dream of opening his own retirement home, wanting to look after senior citizens without skimping on their care and attention like his current employers are.
For Emma however, she confides in Peter and reveals that she left college after her father passed away and since then, has never really taken the time to figure out what she wants in life. This, of course, is a nice throwback to Noah’s reason for breaking up with her, claiming Emma is stuck in a rut.
Both Emma and Peter encourage each other, with Peter buying her a book and Emma urging him to follow his dreams.
While Peter is in a relationship with Anne, she doubts his ability to follow his dreams and encourages him to stay exactly how he is. This sows seeds of doubt in Peter’s mind. However, he chalks this up to Emma’s influence and decides they should stop being friends.
This sad turn of events is made all the more difficult by chance encounters between Emma and Peter afterwards. Emma feels abandoned and decides to focus on her career, moving out of her apartment and beginning to branch out on her own, deciding to be a guidance counselor, something Peter encouraged her to pursue.
When Emma receives an invite to Noah’s wedding, she eventually decides to go – with Logan tagging along as a date.
What happens at Noah’s wedding?
With Noah due to wed Ginny, Peter and Anne show up, as do Logan and Emma. This leads to some initial awkwardness as this entangled friendship circle navigate the obvious bad blood and awkwardness between them all. This is made all the more worse by the fact this wedding takes place on a boat.
When Noah and Ginny tie the knot, Peter can’t stop looking at Emma. Eventually though the truth does come out, and it ends with Noah punching Peter in the face, Anne obviously unhappy with Peter and Logan storming off, especially when he learns Emma didn’t study the theatre.
Even worse though, Emma and Peter aren’t talking.
How do Peter and Emma move past their exs?
With bad blood in the air, Emma and Noah do eventually have a conversation and manage to leave things on a civilized note, although Noah’s amusing “Stay away from my wife” is a harsh reminder of what happened between them.
Emma realizes they’ve never really been compatible and comes to terms with the fact that she was only with him because she didn’t want to end up alone, rather than genuinely feeling love for him.
Meanwhile, Peter and Anne both break up amicably this time, realizing that although they had some good times together, they’re not fulfilled by one another and want different things in life.
How does I Want You Back end?
On the plane back home, Peter and Emma happen to be in adjacent seats. As fate would have it, there’s a sudden pocket of turbulence and the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling. Peter instinctively puts on Emma’s mask first before his own.
This is a nice moment that was foreshadowed earlier in the movie. When Peter and Emma shared a heartfelt moment, Emma mentioned how she had once imagined doing the same thing for her lover. It’s been one of her dreams since she was a child.
To see Peter doing this for her – and for him to remember this moment too – allows for the couple to finally embrace their own feelings for one another. As they both look at each other longingly, we fade to black.
This is a nice way to tie everything together and one that doesn’t end on a cliched kiss in the rain or an airport dash. A nice, satisfying conclusion to a very fun and enjoyable rom-com.
Read More: I Want You Back Movie Review
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