Break out the tissues and chocolate, because Netflix’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: P.S. I Still Love You,” the highly anticipated sequel to the smash-hit 2019 romantic comedy, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” is finally out just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The sequel picks up where the last film left off —on a triumphant high in the life of sophomore Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor). Although she’s on cloud nine as she’s now officially dating her childhood crush —the dreamy, fan-favorite, Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) — Lara Jean finds herself stumbling through her first real relationship, hoping not to get her heartbroken.
When she suddenly receives a response to one of the love letters she accidentally mailed from another childhood crush, John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher), he subsequently re-enters her life as a full-grown heartthrob and Lara Jean’s love life takes an unexpected turn. Battling with feelings for both Peter and John Ambrose as well as her own insecurities, “P.S. I Still Love You,” takes Lara Jean on the emotional rollercoaster of a lifetime.
With such a dedicated fanbase and rave reviews for the first film, the “P.S. I Still Love You”, filmmakers were under pressure to deliver a Valentine's day comedy just as charming and heartfelt as the first. In some ways, they were successful.
Most rom-coms are only focused on characters falling in love. Two people with opposite personalities — and often a seething hatred for each other —may go on a crazy adventure and end up discovering they’re soulmates, meant to spend the rest of their lives together. They kiss and end up happily ever after. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was very much that typical kind of rom-com, as the shy Lara Jean and uber-popular Peter end up in each other’s arms after spending months fake dating to make Peter’s ex-girlfriend — and Lara Jean’s ex-best friend —
Gen, jealous. But, the sequel is an interesting departure from that typical formula.
Instead, it gives audiences a look at what happens after the fairytale happily ever after. It does an excellent job of illustrating the clumsy awkwardness of a new relationship, including the struggles of the first official date, dealing with jealous exes and trying to find out if they’re ready to have sex. The film is full of highly relatable moments — missed dates, over-the-top Valentine’s Day gifts, small misunderstandings magnified into full-blown fights — that are telling of real, everyday relationships that don’t always end so happily.
There are, however, some weaknesses to the film. Eager to make an exciting, new-age film about modern relationships, it seems the filmmakers may have gotten carried away trying to put a little something in there for everyone. Aside from the main storyline of Lara Jean and Peter’s new, fledgling relationship, each of the background characters has their own love interest. Lara Jean’s father likes the next-door neighbor. Christine, Lara Jean’s best friend, and Trevor, a friend and teammate of Peter’s, are secretly seeing each other. Gen is dealing with her parents’ divorce. John Ambrose hopes to rekindle a relationship with Lara Jean as they work together to put on the perfect party at a local retirement home.
Many of the themes in the film are interesting, such as moments dealing with the true meaning of friendship; the Covey girls, Kitty and Lara Jean, embracing their heritage during Korean New Year; and John Ambrose and Lara Jean trying to make a difference in the lives of the senior citizens through their Star Ball.
One particular moment had the potential to hit hard, but it didn’t. Lara Jean asks Gen, her old friend and new archenemy, to meet her in their childhood treehouse, and the two begin the process of healing old wounds and rebuilding a broken friendship. This scene could’ve lifted the story out of the cliche rom-com tropes of love-triangles and cheesy declarations of love, bringing it to a deeper, more profound level. But, muddled together in the midst of all the other drama in the story, much of the effect is lost, as is a large part of the film’s potential.
Despite its drawbacks, and the fact that the sequel will never be able to top the success of the smash-hit original, it definitely tries. With some wonderfully awkward moments, a cheesy and predictable plot and a closing kiss steamy enough to make even seasoned romcom watchers swoon, “P.S. I Love You” is still an entertaining and heartfelt film perfect for one’s Valentine’s and Galentine’s day movie night.
Contact Alexandra Dauchess at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.