To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is a Luke-Warm Sequel
Can the sequel ever live up to the hype of the first film? This is the question at the front of my mind when pressing play on Netflix’s “P.S I Still Love You”.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was Netflix’s hit of the summer. The rom-com follows romantic sixteen-year-old Lara Jean (Lana Condor) after someone mails all her childhood love letters. Teenage chaos, embarrassment, and fake-dating of the jock boy ensue. If you heard your friends suddenly obsessing over a guy named Noah Centineo, this is the movie they watched. Netflix even said it was one of its “most viewed original films ever with strong repeat viewing.”
“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is the sequel that takes off immediately after the first film ends. Lara Jean and Peter Kavnisky (Noah Centineo) are actually dating now — and they have to deal with the reality of what that means. Lara Jean worries she “hasn’t read the girlfriend handbook” and wishes Peter wasn’t so popular.
Then John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher), the fifth recipient of Lara Jean’s letters, enters as another volunteer at the same nursing home as Lara Jean. As a Model UN leader and fellow Harry Potter nerd, he is the clear twenty-first-century nerdy-boy contrast to Peter’s jock archetype.
Condor and Centineo continue to carry the film. Their chemistry (in the scenes where they aren’t fighting) is off the charts and reminds you why you’ve rewatched the first film three times. Lara Jean’s younger sister Kitty (Anna Cathcart) steals every scene she’s in despite not having a lot of real estate. The family “fakes-giving” scene is one of the most enjoyable parts of the film.
The challenge of “P.S. I Still Love You” is it must follow the happily-ever-after storyline. Lara Jean’s internal conflict over dating a more experienced guy rings true as a continuation of their narrative as a couple. Where the film struggles, however, is in its love triangle.
To create doubt in Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship, the film brings ex-girlfriend Gen (Emilija Baranac) back in as competition. One of the worst plot moves is when it is revealed that in the first film, Peter was actually waiting for Gen that night in the hot tub. Instead of focusing on the new conflict (that Gen and Peter still talk), the fight rehashes old plot that should’ve been left in the first film.
*slight spoilers ahead*
The Gen conflict somewhat redeems itself in the treehouse scene. The conversation between Lara Jean and Gen is tender and gives much-needed depth to Gen’s character as she describes the nasty divorce of her parents. You can tell through the performances and the intercut shots of the friendship bracelets that these are two girls who used to care for each other a lot — and now they don’t.
The other side of the love triangle, John Ambrose, shines in this film. Fisher’s performance is cooly confident and John Ambrose is just the right amount of uncool to match Lara Jean. They seem to be the better fit. Though I resent the second use of a love triangle within this series, John Ambrose is a strong contender for Lara Jean.
This sequel was by no means a bad movie. While I watched it, I enjoyed myself. However, it had a hard task to surmount — adding conflict to an already adored power couple. If I was going to retain the amount of escapism and re-watch-ability, it would’ve had to stray much further from the book’s original plotline.
Unfortunately, another sequel movie does not match its predecessor.