When “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” came out a year and a half ago, it didn’t take long for audiences to realize that it is no ordinary teen movie. Although its plot revolves around age-old teen romantic comedy tropes, it does so in a way that feels fresh and comforting: With a young woman of color at its forefront and an array of interesting, fleshed-out characters, the film is a successfully modern spin on old archetypes.
The story follows high school junior Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and her developing love life after several of her middle school crushes are made public information. Lara Jean finds herself faking a relationship with one of these crushes, Peter (Noah Centineo) — who also happens to be the most popular boy at school — in an effort to prove that she did not have feelings for another boy. Of course, she ends up falling in love with Peter and the movie ends with the two officially beginning their romantic relationship. While the plot is predictable, its quirky character dynamics and relatable script nonetheless make it feel endearing and sincere.
“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” while entertaining, lacks this same sincerity. The sequel starts off with Lara Jean and Peter’s first days in their new relationship. Dating Peter is like a dream come true for Lara Jean for a short while, but the protagonist soon finds herself insecure about her lack of romantic experience and confused by her feelings for a new potential love interest, John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher). John Ambrose is another one of Lara Jean’s middle school crushes, and after spending time volunteering with him over several weeks and realizing how much they have in common, Lara Jean comes to doubt her relationship with Peter.
The sequel’s biggest fault is that it feels mostly unnecessary. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the original “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is being able to watch Lara Jean and Peter fall in love. As we get to know the two characters, we also get to watch their relationship become more meaningful and endearing. When this plotline climaxes with the two characters getting together, it feels like the movie’s work is done, which is why the sequel tends to feel so gratuitous. While it may be somewhat entertaining to watch Lara Jean and Peter navigate their new relationship, it simply doesn’t feel as exciting as watching them get together in the first place.
The lack of a necessary storyline isn’t helped by the fact that “P.S. I Still Love You” doesn’t build its characters with the same authenticity its predecessor did. One of the reasons “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is so popular is because of its relatable characters and their charming interactions with one another. In this film, however, their interactions lack chemistry. Peter’s lack of screen time makes him feel forgettable, and the barely fleshed-out storylines of Lara Jean’s father’s new love interest and her best friend Chris’ new romance feel like afterthoughts.
While the movie’s plot may have its faults, the actors’ performances make up for it. Lana Condor is just as quirky and relatable in the sequel as she is in the original, and Noah Centineo is equally dreamy and charming. Their acting, aided by Jordan Fisher as the winsome John Ambrose, keeps the audience engaged and helps the script progress smoothly.
Despite its imperfections, “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is still entertaining the whole way through. Although its characters may not have the same depth as they did in the original movie, they are still likable, and watching them navigate the troubles of high school romance is enjoyable and diverting. The movie probably won’t stay with audiences the same way that “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” did, but it serves its purpose as a teen rom-com nonetheless; despite its lack of sincerity and originality, the film still leaves audiences feeling pleasant and hopeful.
Contact Salem Sulaiman at [email protected].