Yes, I know I’m late. To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is clearly a Valentine’s Day release, yet I’ve waited until the following week to review this anticipated sequel to the smash Netflix hit. To be honest, this is a good thing because this follow-up is a poor excuse for a story even though some charming moments shine through, and I wouldn’t want to ruin anyone’s Valentine’s with this cynical review. Most of the charm of the first installment came from two things: 1) the fun plot involving Lara Jean (Lana Condor) accidentally sending out love letters to her crushes and 2) Noah Centineo’s star-making performance as the main love interest. Unfortunately, both of these strong points have been dulled to make room for groan-inducing relationship drama and incomprehensibly dumb character decisions, although some new additions to the story bring some much-needed spice to the boredom.
The first major problem with this movie is that it has almost no plot. It picks up where the first one left off: Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky (Centineo) are now girlfriend/boyfriend and all is well. But all gets complicated when one of the other recipients of Lara Jean’s love letters, John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher), comes into the picture and makes her question her loyalty to Peter. So basically, the entire movie is just an awkward high school love triangle, with Lara Jean going back and forth between which boy she likes better. Even Twilight: Eclipse had more plot than this (although not by much). Nothing happens for the first twenty minutes until Fisher’s character comes into the picture and makes it mildly interesting. But even then, the minuscule plot isn’t enough to keep the dumb high school drama from feeling like just that: relationship drama that only teenage girls will find merit in.
So the plot from the first one is gone. What about Centineo? After all, he still plays a major role in this film. Disappointingly, it seems the writers forgot what made his character so well done in the last installment, and his character feels like a two-dimensional poster child for How to be a Shitty Boyfriend Magazine. Centineo is clearly still talented, but his charm isn’t allowed to come out in this movie due to some contrived writing for his character. The same applies to Condor as Lara Jean–her character makes so many confusing and just plain stupid decisions that it is near impossible to empathise with her by the time the last act arrives. Fortunately, P.S. I Still Love You has some new tricks up its sleeve in the form as Fisher as the new love interest and Holland Taylor as a supporting character who lives at the retirement home Lara Jean volunteers at. These characters and performances seem to exude the charm that this film needed in order to succeed, and they start to fill the hole that is left in the center of the movie. They can’t fix the lazy plot, but they can make their moments on screen entertaining and as good as can be expected from a cliché high school rom-com. Fisher in particular should be cast in something that pushes his acting and musical talent to the extreme, because I believe he can rise up to the task and prove himself to be much better than what this material offers.
The last act of the movie is simultaneously the most interesting and the most cringe-worthy leg. Similar to the first movie, the writers felt compelled to make an unnecessary conflict meant to drive our main characters apart so they can inevitably get together near the end. While this conflict makes more sense than the one in the first film, the way in which they resolve it sugarcoats a ton of issues and takes the characters back to the beginning of the movie development-wise. The protagonists learn nothing about themselves and what they want in life, making the ordeal this story details entirely pointless.
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You isn’t quite funny enough to get by on just its comedic moments, it isn’t interesting enough to work based on its plot, and the characters aren’t smart enough to be memorable (with the exception of Jordan Fisher). However, it is never completely terrible, and teenage girls who know exactly what they’re in for will more than likely have a blast watching all of these characters screw up their relationships with their sheer stupidity. Hopefully, with the next chapter of this series, the writers will create an interesting story that treats its characters as if they have reasonably high IQs and that contains a good comment on high school dating while being funny throughout. This movie provides glimpses of that vision, but it falls short on too many levels to be any more than another film to scroll by on the Netflix browse screen.
I give To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You a C-.