*I attended a free early screening of To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You in New York City. This did not influence my review of this movie in anyway. This is an honest review of the movie as I saw it. This movie will be released on February 12.*
When To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before came out last year it was an instant hit. Whether you’d read the New York Times bestselling book series by Jenny Han or if you were meeting Lara Jean Song Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) for the first time, fans instantly fell in love with this movie. The actors became stars and with the film’s success Netflix moved forward with not just one sequel, but two more, confirming that all three of Han’s books would be translated to film, much to fan’s delight.
Thus, the hype for To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, along with the expectations, were incredibly high, but could the sequel really hold up to the original? Unfortunately, not quite.
There were a lot of qualities that made To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before a hit. For starters, Condor and Centineo’s chemistry resonated off the screen. From their very first scene together, this was a couple you were rooting for despite all their missteps. But besides their sweet romance, there was also the relationship between the Covey sisters and their dad that really resonated with viewers. Kitty’s (Anna Cathcart) meddling in Lara Jean’s life was the perfect set up for the entire plot of the first film while Lara Jean’s struggle of having a crush on her older sister, Margot’s (Janel Parish), ex-boyfriend brought in a complication that also influenced the plot of the film.
Thus, Lara Jean’s relationship with her family was strongly interwoven with the relationship she developed with Peter creating a cohesive story that was altogether heartwarming. But the layers that made To All the Boys I’ve Loved You such a heartfelt film fell a bit flat in its sequel.
For starters, Margot is only in the film for one scene. While Lara Jean’s mom is heavily referenced throughout the film, we never see Lara Jean try to talk to Margot or Kitty about missing her mom, the two people who would probably understand her grief the most. Additionally, though we do get to see a bit of Kitty’s noteworthy meddling as she attempts to set up their dad (John Corbett) with the next door neighbor, Trina (Sarayu Blue), that storyline easily got lost in the background of the main plot.
Another loss was the lack of Kitty and Peter interactions. There was only one brief scene with Kitty and Peter that people will recognize from the trailer. And perhaps this loss could be attributed to not enough time, but the film also added an unnecessary romance plot line featuring Chris (Madeleine Arthur) as well as the introduction of Peter’s friend Trevor (Ross Butler) who also didn’t add much to the film.
But more than anything what P. S. I Still Love You really suffered from was trying to figure out how to continue telling Lara Jean and Peter’s story in a way that would keep the feel good vibes of the first movie. From the promotions to the trailer, it was clear P. S. I Still Love You was setting up a love triangle for Lara Jean between Peter and John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher). However, for there to be a love triangle the film had to throw a wrench into Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship and unfortunately it’s much more fun to see a couple fall in love than it is to watch them fall apart.
Perhaps if it seemed like there was ever a chance John Ambrose and Lara Jean were actually the couple to root for, maybe John Ambrose and Lara Jean’s romance could’ve been filler for Lara Jean and Peter’s fracturing relationship. Instead, however, John Ambrose just felt like another complication to the couple fans had already fallen in love with in the first film. Thus, any romantic moments John Ambrose shared with Lara Jean rang false.
Even so, there were still plenty of moments in P. S. I Still Love You that will make viewers feel all the heartwarming, fuzzy feelings as they felt with the first movie, beginning with Lara Jean and Peter’s first real date. P. S. I Still Love You also held onto some of the humor and charm from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and as always Condor’s facial expressions truly shined through in this film.
While the movie will certainly break viewers’ hearts at times, fans can rest assured that they’ll come out of the movie believing that though love can be complicated and messy, it’s ultimately still worth those bouts of heartache.
To All the Boys: P. S. I Still Love You begins streaming on Netflix on Friday, February 12. Watch the trailer below: