By Amal Ali ('21)
On February 12, Netflix released the long-awaited sequel of To All the Boys I Loved Before: To All The Boys I Love: P.S. I Still Love You. The main character Lara Jean Covey is a charming Asian American girl who can resonate with a large range of both adults and kids alike. Her dorky sense of humor and relatable personality returns in the sequel for a love triangle that unfolds with her current boyfriend and old childhood friend.
On a surprising note, Variety reported that the franchise made To All the Boys I Loved Before accessible to everyone on the web. With no Netflix subscription required, fans and curious viewers can access the movie for free at netflix.com/toalltheboys. From fanatics of the franchise who have seen the movie to newcomers, everyone can be introduced to the chaotic life of Lara Jean Covey.
However, the much-anticipated movie received a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, disappointing fans. A reason for the drop in critic rating could be the difference in directors. To All the Boys I Loved Before was directed by Susan Johnson while the sequel was directed by Michael Fimognari.
The plot begins with Lara Jean and her new boyfriend Peter Kavinsky going on their first date. Lara Jean’s character in the first movie consisted of a shy, fashionable high schooler who was more of an outsider than the social norm of a “popular” girl. Her problems delve into her insecurities about dating and her fears about her boyfriend and his ex still being friends. Lara Jean could relate to many viewers because of her longing for a chance at being popular, and having a perfect high school life which many teenagers strive towards.
But Lara Jean’s motives in the sequel are questionable. Her feelings boomerang between Peter and the sudden return of her friend John Ambrose McClaren who she still has feelings for. Throughout the movie, Lara Jean lies to John Ambrose about dating Peter and arguably leads him on. Unfortunately, John believes he still has a chance to be with her despite the truth of reality. Her actions are infuriating as they deviate from her previous characterization as a truthful, compassionate person. While the first movie allows several audience members to relate, the second movie gives the audience reasons to dislike Lara Jean and lack empathy for her problems.
Furthermore, the plot of To All The Boys I Love: I Still Love You is nonexistent and illogical. Throughout the entire movie, Lara Jean is conflicted about her relationship with Peter. Every scene illustrates an argument they have, giving reasons as to why they should break up or at least take a break from one another.
On the other hand, the film exclusively shows John Ambrose as a better match for Lara Jean. Throughout the several Saturday mornings they spend together volunteering, Lara Jean is visibly seen as more relaxed and is not questioning her every decision with John Ambrose. She is more interested in the conversation as she says, “The overthinking… doesn’t happen when I’m with John Ambrose.”
Looking more into the male leads themselves, Peter is a mediocre boyfriend. He constantly lies to Lara Jean and chooses his ex over her, his current girlfriend. In the first movie, Peter was loved for his kindness he showed towards not only Lara Jean but also to the audience. Even his romantic gestures like buying Lara Jean her favorite yogurt drink that was only sold across town was adored. But in the sequel, Peter told Lara Jean he wrote her a poem for Valentine’s Day and plagiarizes it completely. The couple goals that won fans over are not seen in this movie.
The moment where Lara Jean has to pick between the two boys after kissing John Ambrose, she says she “wanted him to be someone else.”
The audience was confused with her final decision, wondering why she wanted Peter in the end who made her feel insecure and brought more problems than happiness into her life. Her entire character development falls short of her decision, reversing every action she previously made. It was a disappointing build-up to an uninspiring ending.
Seeing the character the audience fell in love with in the first movie was a heartwarming experience, but the screenplay and characters’ actions were questionable. The director took all the credibility of the main characters that were built up in the first movie and destroyed it. To All The Boys I Love: I Still Love You rating of 73% was the unfortunate deserved grade. We can only hope that the third movie will revamp Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship, giving fans the couple goals they didn't receive in the sequel.