Photo Credit: Raquelle Elson/Achona Online
“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” the sequel to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” was released on Wednesday, Feb 12. The film, which portrays a teenage love triangle, attempts to live up to the original but falls short.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
In the movie’s plot, the protagonist, Lara Jean Covey, is in a relationship with Peter Kavinsky, a popular jock and her ex-best friend’s ex-boyfriend. When her past love, John Ambrose McClaren, re-enters her life, Lara Jean finds herself at a crossroad.
Unlike most films, fans did not have to wait months for the confirmation of the sequel. This short wait, in addition to the popularity of the original, contributed to the pre release buzz of “PS I Still Love You.” However, the outpour of negative reviews reveals that this movie did not live up to the high standards set by the first. Throughout the movie, many scenes and decisions were rushed and lacked the input of thought.
Many students at Academy agree with this claim. “Overall, I did not like the movie because it took way too long to get to the point, and her decisions were not clear,” said Natalia Guzman (‘23).
Lara Jean’s final decision of staying with Peter rather than giving John Ambrose McClaren a chance exemplifies the movie’s poorly thought out decisions. Lara Jean spent less than three hours with John Ambrose before she decided she would rather be with Peter. While this could be considered a classic romcom decision, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” contradicts this idea. In the first film, Lara Jean spent the entire movie deciding the fate of her love life. John Ambrose was never a true contender until the Star Ball, so it does not seem realistic that Lara Jean could have turned him down so quickly.
“The pacing of the movie was not the greatest. It was very stretched out and spent a lot of time setting up things we did not necessarily need to see because we had already seen them happen in the first movie,” said Madison Kwo (‘23).
seems a lot of ppl already watched the to all the boys: PS. I still love you.
a lot of fans wants peter kavinsky, but john Ambrose's is much better. Aside the plagiarized poem peter gave. Having John Ambrose is a total package, he got everything + the fact that he's respectful pic.twitter.com/MVnSBsnPEu
— roo (@jinyoungtops) February 16, 2020
At the end of the day, “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” is just another basic romcom. Time and time again, viewers are fed the same love story: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl fight, boy and girl kiss and make up. The plotline of a boy and a girl faking a relationship only to fall in love adds a twist to the basic romantic comedy storyline. “To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You” retracted the progress previously made by going back to the typical plot.
Lara Jean and Peter’s breakup was caused by the lies and secrets about Gen surrounding their relationship which made Lara Jean uncomfortable. She also found out that one of the biggest turning points of their relationship was not supposed to happen. This is all on top of the fact that Lara Jean constantly felt insecure about Peter’s experience, gestures, and overall popularity. When John Ambrose re-enters her life, not only does Lara Jean have a chance with him, but a chance at a relationship without reminders of what his last relationship was like. Lara Jean’s decision to go back to Peter, even though none of their problems were solved nor were any of her nerves calmed, places an unrealistic expectation that everything will work out in a relationship.
“I did not like it because it sets up unrealistic standards for relationships,” said Kimberly Egoavil (‘23).
Shortly after the initial film was released, a sequel and third picture were also announced. In many cases, when a director has a full story in mind, there are often parts that serve as fluff pieces before major plot events. “To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You” replicated this feeling. This movie should have been able to stand alone while still continuing the story of the first and escalating to that of the third. The premeditated planning of the third installment of the series let the director have a full picture in his mind while the audience did not.
“The plot of the second one is incredibly similar to the first one in terms of the setting and what happens, a lot of things happened in the same place and at the same time. Most of the movie more or less followed the same storyboard, such as the times at which they had fights and the pacing of the movie,” said Kwo.
— 𝔅𝔦𝔞𝔫𝔠𝔞 (@benluvssssss) February 15, 2020
The lack of individuality, inauthentic storytelling and poorly depicted emotions of the movie all contribute to the disdain many views felt after watching.
Although it is quite obvious that her relationships with her friends and family are very important to her, Lara Jean’s life was broadcasted as one-sided, as if there was nothing more to her than her relationship with Peter.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” set a standard of balance in Lara Jean’s life through scenes with her sisters and stories of her mother. While Lara Jean still interacts with her sisters, their bonds are not as prominent as they were in the original. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” also showcased Lara Jean’s close friendships through scenes of her and Lucas in their hotel room and her and Chris hanging out at her house. Scenes such as Lucas’s insecurities and the rekindling of her friendship with Gen are presented in the sequel, but never expanded on which creates an inaccurate representation of a teenage girl’s life and what she values.
Many argue this inauthenticity stems from the new director. While “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was directed by Susan Johnson, a female, “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” was directed by Michael Fimognari, a male.
Fimognari cannot relate to the thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl which limits his ability to convey the ups and downs of high school life. The scenes depicting Lara Jean coping with the breakup displayed her as a shell of herself rather than her previously empowering characterization from the first film. Fimognari did an unrealistic and mediocre job of portraying a modern girl’s reaction to heartbreak.
ps: i still love you (2020) l rating: 4/10
dir. michael fimognari
classic example that not all novels or sequels are made to be adapted. lacks everything that made the first movie good. killer soundtrack though. pic.twitter.com/3eH7KtN7nB
— binrits' film and tv reviews (@binrits) February 13, 2020
Despite this, some at the Academy did enjoy the film.
“I absolutely loved this movie, it was incredible. I can’t even put into words how amazing that movie was. I think if you are like me and have an addiction to rom coms, ice cream, and tears you should totally watch this,” said Crista Guevara (‘23).
Lara Jean’s factless decision-making confused the audience, as many could not follow her thought process. The poor pacing of the movie irritated many viewers because it took too long to get to the final point, and when the resolution was finally reached it was the lesser of two options. The regression to the common love story disappointed many viewers who were entranced by the originality of the original. The preplanned threequel and failed attempts to replicate the original caused this sequel to lack enough importance to stand alone. The change in directors attributed to the authenticity of the storytelling and emotions of this movie. Overall, “To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You” failed to properly represent love and all of its complexity.