“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” Loses the Balance Between Drama and Romance

Photo+courtesy+of+BETTINA+STRAUSS%2FNETFLIX

Photo courtesy of BETTINA STRAUSS/NETFLIX

In the summer of 2018, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was a smash hit among teens, prompting a sequel released February 12, 2020, and a third movie in the making. In the sequel, “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” Lara Jean is thrown into an entirely different love triangle and forced to adjust to the expectations that come with her first relationship. 

 

While the movie kicks off with some adorable moments from Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinski (Noah Centineo), it’s not long before the couple is in rough waters. One of the struggles with watching the movie is just how much drama there is. The story relies on the development from the first movie to carry the lacking parts of Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship, giving the writers an excuse to skimp out on light-hearted scenes in exchange for a neverending assembly line of conflict for the young lovers, barely giving the audience enough time to breathe.

 

With so much drama shoehorned into the plot, the pacing seemed repetitive as the problem was the same each time. Lara Jean would witness Peter and his ex-girlfriend, Gen, cozying up with one another in an out-of-context moment leading to an array of insecurities and misunderstandings that could easily be fixed with simple communication.

 

The cycle rinsed and repeated for a good portion of the movie. However, I did appreciate the use of Gen’s character. Outside of being Peter’s ex, she was given a genuine moment with Lara Jean that truly added to their friendship and characters as a whole. That scene was the only time Gen didn’t feel like a useless ploy to make the protagonist jealous.

 

John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher) was another character that played an interesting role in the story. With how much of a Mr. Nice Guy he was made out to be, I would have assumed Lara Jean might consider him a contender for her heart. But there was never a defining moment where John Ambrose felt like an option. Of course, the two shared natural chemistry, but so much focus was put on the Peter and Gen drama that he came off as a side piece to the actual plot. The pacing would have been better off more fleshed out as while Lara Jean showed some interest in John Ambrose, there was never any rising tension in either relationship. The movie made it clear that Peter would always be her first choice.

 

Though I have qualms with “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” I do have to applaud how the story addressed Lara Jean’s insecurities. Today’s media romanticizes teenage relationships to the point where high schoolers think they’re obligated to be engaged or in a committed relationship by adulthood, leading to rushed and messy relationships. This pressure has created a taboo that we see Lara Jean experience. Going through her first time having a boyfriend, she worries she’s at a nonexistent disadvantage that would disappoint Peter. This self-doubt leads to Lara Jean comparing herself to Gen and trying to shape herself into the perfect girlfriend. This plotline grounds the movie and adds a layer of realism that most romcoms lack.

 

While my opinions make it seem like I dislike “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You,” the truth is I found it very entertaining. However, from a film standpoint, I believe there were still some kinks that needed to be ironed out to bring the movie to its full potential. In comparison to the first movie, “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” felt like something it was missing, and the writing produced poorly executed storylines and one-off subplots that the audience is sure to forget. Each scene held a special charm, but the unorganized pacing took away from that. Although even with the mistakes of this movie, I’m still rooting for Lara Jean and Peter and have high hopes for their next adventure.