Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a pitch-perfect adaptation of Jenny Han’s bestselling coming of age novel. The 2018 film adaptation of the teen rom-com was sweet, relatable, and undeniably charming. It also turned out to be one of Netflix’s most-watched and best-reviewed original movies, setting the bar incredibly high for the sequel. Fortunately, 2020’s To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You clears that bar and is equally as entertaining as its predecessor.
Picking up right where the first film left off, the sequel finds lovebirds Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) no longer having to pretend their attraction to one another isn’t real. Lara Jean’s absolutely radiant with the glow of new love and eager to find her way as part of a high school couple for the very first time. And who wouldn’t want Peter as their first-ever boyfriend? Seriously, the guy’s just an all-around good dude. He’s popular without being a jerk about it. Handsome, funny, caring…he ticks all the boxes.
Lara Jean’s going through a series of firsts – first kisses, first dates, first holidays as part of a couple – while Peter’s done all of those things before with Gen (Emilija Baranac). The fact Peter’s experienced while Lara Jean’s dipping her toes in the relationship pool for the first time proves to be a point of contention for the otherwise adorable couple. Is Peter on repeat mode? Is he taking Lara Jean to places he used to take Gen? Inquiring minds…make that specifically one inquiring mind…want to know what’s unique to this relationship and what’s a tried and true date formula from Peter’s past.
While Lara Jean’s working her way past early relationship stumbling blocks, she finds herself forced into confronting another one of the recipients of her love letters. John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher) reintroduces himself into her life and tosses his hat into the potential boyfriend ring. Lara Jean and Peter swore never to break each other’s hearts, but that promise was made before John Ambrose reappeared. What’s a girl to do when so many decent guys show an interest?
As with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the sequel immediately wraps its audience in a welcoming, inclusive embrace. You’d be hard-pressed to find two young actors with better onscreen chemistry in a romantic comedy than Noah Centineo and Lana Condor. Centineo and Condor are, once again, absolutely terrific as an unlikely high school couple dealing with a refreshingly realistic range of relationship issues.
No matter your age, it’s likely you can relate to or recall the terrifying experience of first love. Condor’s Lara Jean perfectly captures the mood swings, doubts, drama, and dizzying delights of falling for someone for the very first time.
Compared to Lara Jean, Peter is less fleshed out and could easily have come across as a one-dimensional, generic boyfriend-type. But as with the first film, Centineo makes sure that doesn’t happen. It’s still ultimately Lara Jean’s story, however Centineo brings such depth to the character he ensures the audience knows Peter exists outside of his role as a boyfriend while at the same time being fully dedicated/committed to the relationship.
The sequel concentrates on Lara Jean and Peter, however, it also manages to make time to expand on the stories of Lara Jean’s sister, Kitty (Anna Cathcart), and their father, Dan (John Corbett). In fact, dad even gets to take tiny steps toward re-entering the world of dating with the introduction of Trina, (Sarayu Blue), a single neighbor who Dan has a few awkward but cute moments trying to get to know better.
The first film set up the love story; the sequel gives it space and allows it to blossom. To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, premiering two days before Valentine’s Day, is the perfect stay at home date movie. Not in a relationship? Not to worry. It’s still an entertaining way to forget about the stress of real life while spending a few hours with smart, funny, and interesting characters.
Release Date: February 12, 2020
Directed By: Michael Fimognari
Running Time: 101 minutes