The big problem with ‘To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You’02/13/2020
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a smash hit for Netflix — and its sequel seems to be, too. But it has a protagonist problem.
Although the streaming platform doesn’t release audience numbers, the high school rom-com was reportedly one of its “most viewed original films ever with strong repeat viewing.” This film, as well as the rest of Netflix’s “Summer of Love” slate drew somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 million eyeballs during the steamy months of 2019. In other words, this movie franchise is essentially the Super Bowl of rom-coms.
It’s sequel, “To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You,” hit the streamer Wednesday and has been trending on Twitter since. The only issue? Protagonist Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor, 22) is kind of an ass in it.
These movies are essentially sugar and spice and everything nice. They look like a live Pinterest board, and they follow the gentle and sweet romance between shy high-schooler Lara Jean and kindhearted jock Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo, 23, who’s become an overnight star after the first movie, with an Instagram following that blew up from 0.8 million followers to over 13 million after it hit).
In the second movie, however, Peter gets competition in the form of John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher, 25), another former crush of Lara Jean’s who comes back into her life when they work in a retirement home together. And Lara Jean behaves like a total ass.
The movie essentially follows her as she yanks both boys around without being honest with either of them. As she starts a flirtation with John, she fails to tell him that Peter is her boyfriend. In fact, when he awkwardly finds out, she must apologize for not telling him.
On the other end, she fails to tell Peter that she’s reconnected with another old crush until circumstance forces her hand.
This is supposed to be cute?
That’s right, Lara Jean accuses Peter of being a player, juggling both her and his ex-girlfriend. But she’s the real player, here.
Of course — spoiler alert — all’s well that ends well, and these movies are too sugary-sweet to wallow in real conflict for long. “P.S. I Still Love You” ends with her reunited with Peter, and John is mellow and understanding about being used and discarded.
Even so, it’s a bit jarring that this supposedly shy and romance-obsessed teen girl isn’t behaving with integrity, and the movie doesn’t seem to want to dig into it. It could have been interesting if the script examined Lara Jean’s selfishness — but it’s not willing to go there.
“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is currently on Netflix. A third and final movie, “Always and Forever, Lara Jean,” is also coming, although there’s no air date yet.
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