By Kirsten Coachman
Last month Netflix released To All The Boys P.S. I Still Love You, the second film adaptation based on the popular Jenny Han novel series. If you haven’t seen the first film, 2018’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, I suggest taking care of that, because spoilers ahoy! The sequel picks up with our beloved Lara Jean Song Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), who are headed out on their first date as girlfriend and boyfriend, where under a paper lantern-filled sky they promise not to break each other’s hearts.
After returning from her family’s Korean New Year celebration, Lara Jean received a letter from John Ambrose McClaren, one of the five recipients of her love letters, which throws her world off its axis. But that’s not the only thing on Lara Jean’s mind; she can’t help but think about how the firsts she’s now experiencing with Peter, he’s already experienced with Gen, his ex-girlfriend and Lara Jean’s ex-best friend.
The characters are doing community service and upon arriving to volunteer at the Bellview retirement home, Lara Jeans learns she’s not the only high school student currently volunteering and finds herself face to face with the one and only John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher). Cue the drama!
As someone who watched the first film an embarrassing amount of times, it should be no surprise that I was up at midnight ready to watch P.S. I Still Love You. Yes, I admit that I was grinning like an idiot throughout, however the sequel didn’t inspire an immediate rewatch like the original did.
For starters, unlike the second book, Peter’s behavior and interactions with Gen are seemingly glossed over in the movie, painting Lara Jean as being kind of irrational, when her reaction to Peter spending time with Gen without her knowledge is valid. With Lara Jean’s insecurities about her relationship running wild, it really sucks the life out of the character as a whole.
And then there’s the treatment of John Ambrose. Having him open up to Lara Jean about how girls would use him to get close to Peter when they were younger only to have her ultimately break his heart–especially when he’s a wildly much better match–and run back into Peter’s arms was disheartening. (Even though, technically, Lara Jean had already dated Peter and the fact that I read the second book and knew it was eventually coming.)
Overall, the film as a whole felt rushed. It’s really too bad, since the first film continues to be such an enjoyable watch, albeit part of that is due to it being both thoughtful and well-paced. One can only hope that the upcoming installment of this film series recaptures the magic and charm of the first film. And if they wanted to bring back John Ambrose in some capacity, you won’t get any argument from me (or, I imagine, anyone else).