Just in time for Valentine’s Day, and to warm my frozen heart, Netflix released “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” on Wednesday.
Viewers have been waiting to get lost in the world of love letters, baked goods and Peter Kavinsky’s (Noah Centineo) goofy smile since the first “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” release in August 2018.
For a Netflix adaptation of a young adult novel, the first movie was well embraced by viewers and critics, receiving a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. TATBILB left girls everywhere waiting for a cute boy to slip his hand in her pocket and spin her across the cafeteria after they sipped on some Yakult. Peter’s iconic “woah, woah, woah” will forever have a special place in the hearts of many. The new film has not quite hit the same marks with the critics, with a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The new movie dives back into the colorful world of Lara Jean (Lana Condor) with an opening homage to “Adventures in Babysitting,” a fitting scene for a character that so many relate to because of her love of romance and tendency to live in her head. Lara Jean and Peter are now officially dating, no contracts in place other than the promise to not break the hearts of each other –– an omen for heartbreak to come if there ever was one. Within the first twenty minutes, they are off to the races and the drama begins between everyone’s favorite new couple. Missed dates, former flames and first relationship fears plague the waters of Lara Jean and Peter’s happiness.
The first movie ends with the introduction of John Ambrose McClaren, the UN Model attending middle school crush we all wish we had, showing up at Lara Jean’s house. The new movie seems to skip over that introduction and brings John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher) back into the picture through a letter of his own and a big dose of childhood nostalgia –– the only real thing he and Lara Jean have going for them.
It still has all of the ingredients of what made the first movie so great – an interesting lead, the well-meaning but goofy boy and the first relationship fears – but it is too rushed and misses out on what made the first movie so charming. The relationship between Lara Jean and her father (John Corbett) was a standout. Seeing a teenage girl coming of age and having that strong relationship with her father is unusual and it worked so well. Lara Jean’s dynamic with her sisters and best friend help make her a character that so many can see themself in.
The appeal of those relationships was lost in the rush to develop the love triangle between Peter, John Ambrose and Lara Jean and then resolve it within the 102-minute run time.
In what feels like an instant, Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship goes from sweet and new to fumbling and on the rocks.
Lara Jean and John Ambrose pick up a lot of the lost chemistry between her and Peter. They make volunteering at a nursing home much more glamorous than it ever could be while making viewers question if Peter K. really is the guy for her. They focus so much on who they were in middle school, that one cannot help but wonder if they have anything in common now.
New characters such as Stormy (Holland Taylor), the firecracker former flight attendant Lara Jean gets to know at the nursing home and Trevor (Ross Butler) a childhood friend, bring some new life and laughs to the movies.
Just when things are really starting to get interesting and viewers are wondering how the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter will turn out, the movie wraps almost everything up with the perfect little Netflix bow. Even with the bow, I need more and it leaves one wondering how they are going to introduce the next film.
For all of the rushing, the movie still introduces the complex set of emotions and fears that come with a first or new relationship that hit home with so many. Lara Jean’s fear of not living up to expectations set by Peter’s long term ex and constant self-comparison to her are universally recognizable.
In the end, “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is a solid, albeit rushed, sequel that leaves viewers feeling happy but wanting more. There are still plenty of issues surrounding Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship and how they are going to move forward as they get closer to graduating that we will hopefully get in the final installment.
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Traveler Score: B-