Review: ‘To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love you’ didn’t need to happen

Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky), Lana Condor (Lara Jean) and John Ambrose (Jordan Burchett) pose for a promotional poster.

Photo credit: Netflix

Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky), Lana Condor (Lara Jean) and John Ambrose (Jordan Burchett) pose for a promotional poster.

By Allie Worchell, Voices Editor

After Netflix released what is arguably its most successful romantic comedy to date, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” its successor “To All the Boys: P.S. I Love You” had big shoes to fill. Let’s put it this way. We didn’t need a sequel. 

Released on Feb. 12, 2020, the movie is based on the second book in Jenny Han’s trilogy. It is directed by Michael Fimognari, known for various movies and television shows such as the hit Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House.”

In the first movie, protagonist Lara Jean’s (Lana Condor) love letters are sent out by her sister Kitty and wreak havoc on her life. She is in love with her sister’s boyfriend (one of the love letters gets sent to him) so in order to curb her embarrassment, she pretends to date the charismatic and popular lacrosse player Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). The story is filled with drama and teenage romance, but by the end, Lara Jean is happily dating Peter (for real). 

The second movie follows the progression of Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky’s high school relationship and includes a love triangle by introducing Lara Jean and Peter’s childhood friend, John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher), who receives one of Lara Jean’s love letters that her sister mailed out in the first movie.  

At the beginning of the movie, Peter and Lara Jean are navigating their newfound relationship. Lara Jean decides to work at Bellevue, an old age home, and Peter opts to pursue a different community service project. On her first day at Bellevue, John Ambrose walks in. Lara — in shock — accidentally knocks over a bowl of candy…and the real drama starts. 

The whole movie follows the progression of childhood friendships converging with their high school identities. 

John Ambrose McClaren is the guy you think Lara Jean would be with. He’s chivalrous, smart, witty and plays the piano. Peter, on the other hand, shows up late for dates. He goes to parties and barely pays attention to her. And he keeps some secrets — setting the foundation for the whole movie.

Though this movie tries to embrace the trials and tribulations of young love, it falls short. Instead of leaving us with hearts aflutter, the movie leaves us feeling unsatisfied — not to mention that the acting is one-dimensional. John Ambrose is a dull foil for Peter and doesn’t add much. 

Although this is a Netflix film and not a big-budget Oscar-worthy drama, compared to the first film, it felt as if the actors were reading off a script. I wished for real emotions but found myself bored due to the unrealistic script and unimpressive acting. 

I wanted to embrace this movie. I loved the first one — it was perfectly witty, charming and checked all the boxes for a teenage romance. But, as I was watching the sequel, I couldn’t stop laughing at the cheesy romanticism of the film, especially when Lara Jean breaks the fourth wall and looks directly at the camera, lip-syncing the song “Moral of the Story” by Ashe. 

The beauty of a rom-com is that the ending leaves you in a state of wondering what happens next. Your imagination runs wild — maybe the characters get married and spend the rest of their lives together. Maybe they break up. It is up to your interpretation. 

With a sequel, we get to explore the aftermath of a big movie kiss and see another glimpse into the lives of our favorite characters. While some may appreciate this, for me, it ruins the journey. I don’t want to know what happened because like this movie, I ended up feeling disappointed, wanting to create my own imagined ending. Though this is more of a general comment about rom-com sequels, it’s especially true for “To all the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You.” The bad acting and the mediocre script made me long for a time before the sequel. 

“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is available to stream on Netflix. 

To All the Boys I've Loved Before: P.S. I Still Love You Part 2
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Lara Jean has just made her relationship with Peter Kavinsky from fake to official, yet another recipient of her old love letters enters the picture.