Published Feb 14, 2020To All the Boys I've Loved Before was a smash hit for Netflix, and rightly so: the 2018 romcom offered a loveable Gen Z update on classic '90s teen movies, like a kinder and more diverse She's All That.
For the second go-around, we're thrown back into the burgeoning romance between Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo), who have now begun dating. While the first movie dealt with all of the secret scheming that goes along with trying to woo a crush, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You concerns a rather less dramatic subject: the growing pains of a new relationship. Full of petty jealousies and lying by omission, it's a fairly lucid look at teens who have a lot of feelings, but not a lot of experience in how to navigate them.
Although things are seemingly perfect with Peter, Lara Jean is irrationally insecure about her beau's romantic history with his ex, Gen (Emilija Baranac). She also finds herself strangely drawn to John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher), another one of the recipients of her secret love letters from the first film, with whom she volunteers at an opulent retirement home straight out of a Wes Anderson movie.
Between looking at Peter with googly eyes and getting inappropriately close to John Ambrose, Lara Jean spends an awful lot of time thinking about boys — to the extent that her character doesn't have much of a personality beyond her crushes. She's one of those people who starts dating somebody and then, seemingly overnight, begins every sentence with "my boyfriend…"
Lara Jean literally doesn't express a single interest beyond liking boys. What does she want to do when she graduates high school? Is she interested in sports and/or the arts? Who knows? At least Peter plays on the lacrosse team; the closest thing Lara Jean gets to an extracurricular activity is getting romantic advice from sassy senior citizen Stormy (played by the magnetic Holland Taylor, who steals every scene she's in).
The characters' nonexistent personalities mean that there's not much spark between them. It's hard to feel invested in whether Lara Jean chooses Peter or John Ambrose when there's so little chemistry.
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is stylish, with a beautiful pastel colour palette and a fashionable electro-pop soundtrack (featuring some modern remakes of '80s classics like "Age of Consent" and "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"). With so much flash and little substance, it might appeal to fans who already love the first movie, but it's hard to imagine this having much crossover appeal.
This film is based on a trio of novels by Jenny Han, meaning that there's a third movie coming down the pipeline. Maybe the next one could be called To All the Boys: Taking Some Time to Really Focus on Myself.