‘To All the Boys P.S. I Still Love You’ does not meet standard set by first film

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Jacqueline Barba

The highly anticipated sequel is guaranteed to disappoint those who loved it's predecessor.

In the film industry, making a sequel as beloved as its predecessor is hard to achieve, and sadly To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You has now fallen into those ranks. One of the best film-to-movie adaptations out there, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was well made, well casted and well written. The highly anticipated sequel was released Feb. 13, and while it might be perfect if you’re looking for a cheesy movie to watch this Valentine’s Day, fans of the first one are in for a real rollercoaster of emotions.

The second film follows Lara Jean Covey, played by Lana Condor, and heartthrob Peter Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo, through the ups and downs of their new relationship. In addition to insecurities from never having had a boyfriend, Lara Jean struggles with the arrival of John Ambrose McClaren, played by Jordan Fisher, who is another recipient of her letters. Smart, quiet and sweet, John Ambrose seems to be the antithesis to charming, outgoing and popular Peter. Fights, jealousies and some tough decisions follow the entrance of this new player for Lara Jean’s heart.

My main problem with the storyline is that much of it feels very surface-level. While Lara Jean is busy bonding with John Ambrose, there’s very little development in her relationship with Peter. If the decision between Peter and John Ambrose is supposed to be so difficult, then I would have liked to see more of a bond between Lara Jean and Peter.

Sure, there were plenty of cute moments between them — like that lantern scene — but there was a lack of meaningful moments, making it hard for me to see why there was any competition between Peter and John Ambrose in the first place.

The scene in which Lara Jean and Peter get into a fight over Lara Jean throwing a party with John Ambrose would have been perfect for this, but instead of diving in deep, Lara Jean and Peter fight and then abruptly make-up when Peter hugs her and says “Let’s never fight again.”

While I’m sure a hug from Peter Kavinsky would shut most of us up, that’s not a resolution to a fight.

For their part the actors were fabulous. Noah Centineo was charming as ever, Lana Condor was fantastically lovable, and newcomer Jordan Fisher was effortlessly endearing. Fisher impressed me most with his ability to make John Ambrose a genuine competitor for Lara Jean’s heart — it’s hard to upstage Peter Kavinsky, but he did so flawlessly.

I didn’t feel like the problem was bad acting but rather a flawed script. The writing of this film was seriously lacking in depth. I was left wanting more — and not in a good way.

The saving grace of the film was two-fold: Lara Jean’s personal growth, and the supporting characters. The supporting characters Kitty, Chris and Stormy offered comedic relief to the film, giving it some of the light-heartedness I craved. The plot in which Mr. Covey has a crush on Mrs. Rothschild, the neighbor, brought back some of the fun of the first film.

Lara Jean facing her own insecurities was also really nice to see. Her personal growth was much more interesting to watch than the battle between John Ambrose and Peter. I would have really loved if the writers had spent more time fleshing out Lara Jean’s insecurities and consequent growth from them rather than the love triangle.

It would have elevated the entire movie from simply being a cheesy romantic film to being genuinely insightful. Real people in real relationships struggle every day from insecurities just like Lara Jean’s, and putting more emphasis on those insecurities would have only created a stronger connection for the viewer.

The cinematography and color palettes were the highlights of this film for me. Pastel color palettes, aerial shots and a variety of stylish costumes gave the movie an aesthetically pleasing finish. The playlist was also thoughtful and added to the overall tender-hearted and lovey-dovey feel of the film.

However, those scenes with Lara Jean singing to the camera? Completely unnecessary and totally confusing. The opening scene of her dancing around her room mouthing the words to The Crystals “Then He Kissed Me” was cute and admissible.

The scene where she walks around singing a sad song as if she was in Mamma Mia? Totally unexpected and weird.

It made the movie feel like a joke, which was incredibly disappointing. Part of the charm of the first film was its seriousness. Too often, romantic movies lose sight of the real lessons that we can teach through love stories in favor of cheesiness — I was sad to see this sequel fall into this pitfall which the first one so effortlessly avoided.

Overall, the film is still better than other monstrosities to the romantic genre — looking at you, The Kissing Booth — but when compared to the first one, it is a total let-down. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before held so much promise that I was saddened to see the second one didn’t live up to that promise. I have hope that the third and final installment will bring back the loveliness of the first one and continue the aesthetics of this one to create one eloquent farewell to Lara Jean and all of her adventures.