Back in 2018, Netflix blessed us with a charming little teen comedy about a high schooler named Lara Jean whose letters she wrote to her crushes back in grade school are accidentally sent to them. One of her recipients, Peter Kavinsky, asks her to pretend to be his girlfriend to save her from embarrassment, but also to make his ex girlfriend jealous. They end up falling in love for real, which made the teenagers of the internet absolutely lose their minds and with good reason. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a newfound classic for this generation. With the newly released sequel To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, it didn’t quite leave that same imprint on me.
The direction only partially matches the first film in terms of the nature of the characters, but not enough to where it feels like its own thing. The pacing feels off and kinda slow, ending in a very anti-climatic way. Second installments are never easy when you have a smash hit to live up to, however, this was completely rushed and highly predictable like they didn’t even try. The first one is predictable as well, but is full of high stakes and nuance. It’s like the crew left for break and came back to the same sets with a different director who just checked off a list of beats.
We find Lara Jean and Peter at what seems to be the height of their relationship. Out of nowhere, Lara Jean gets a letter back from one of her recipients, John Ambrose. Literally two days later he shows up to volunteer at the assisted living home she is volunteering at, where they hit it off. The rest of the film is Lara Jean having an internal struggle of choosing between the boyfriend she just got and the boyfriend that could be. It’s a relatable story, but it isn’t very exciting. Like I said before, I haven’t read the books, so I’m not going to base my critique on the source material. I loved the choice of dialogue for the funnier parts, but a lot of the script seemed rushed as well. Things are brought up that you expect to be later plot points, but are never brought up again. Before I knew it, it was over. It felt like it was holding so much story from us, as if to save all the better stuff for the next film.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Most of the characters return, but the funnier characters like Christine and Trevor are barely around. I truly believe all these kids go to school together. Their chemistry as a group is the only element that kept me engaged in the story. While its apparent this school year is way different than the previous one, they’ve all grown up just a tad bit and in similar ways. Lana Condor is brilliant as Lara Jean, a character I deeply cherish and relate to. I love everything about her delivery and the way she carries the character. Noah Centineo as Peter is a very convincing jock with that sweet personality. I can’t picture anyone else as John Ambrose except Jordan Fisher. He is probably the most convincing role out of everyone if I’m going to be honest. The cast really gave it their all, but it’s apparent there wasn’t much for them to work with.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The sound design was entertaining, as I always enjoy awkward voice overs in teen comedies, especially when it’s done right. I really enjoyed the sound track as it was one of the driving forces of the overall feel of the movie. They included a song called Age of Consent (New Order) by one of my favorite bands named Cayetana. It’s full of great modern indie pop that appeals to young adults. If this soundtrack wasn’t good, I truly don’t know if this film would be worth writing about, and that makes me kinda sad.
The production design absolutely slaps and the addition of the word banners scattered around is a neat little touch. The burst of color everywhere we go is all over yet uniformed. The assisted living home is top-notch aesthetically pleasing. I love the intense decorating in each room they go into. The whole film could have been in that building and I would have loved it.
So I said the same thing about Let It Snow; the constant wide lens is nauseating. I went back and it’s the same thing for the first movie, but I wasn’t distracted by it since it was entertaining. Even so, the framing and composition was exquisite. Fimognari doubled as director AND director of photography for this film, so for me it was clear which role got more attention.
"We Both Like The Smell Of Sawdust. That Is Not A Crime."
Genre: Drama. Romance.
Perhaps if I didn’t hype this up in my head I would have been let down easier. This movie begs us to make this decision with her and that’s literally it. There’s no B-story and no real stakes for our girl, so you kind of just don’t care who she ends up with at the end. If you don’t mind a mundane after school special type thing with these characters, have at it! If you want an entertaining story, just rewatch the first one.