‘To All the Boys’ Sequel Struggles to Live Up to First One

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You — Netflix’s sequel to their popular teen romcom, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before — had a lot to live up to. Fans adored the first one and pleaded Netflix to adapt the next book in the young adult trilogy the movies are based on. The sequel was released on February 12th, finally ending the anticipation.

   The new film’s strength lies in its lead, Lana Condor. Condor is as dynamic and charming as she was in the first movie. She embodies starry-eyed, loving Lara Jean with ease. Lara Jean is a character that could easily come off as overly cheesy, but Condor brings an earnestness to her performance that’s delightful to watch.

   Many of the new characters and plot lines that are introduced are well executed. Fans of the books will be relieved to know that this adaptation is fairly faithful. I was particularly glad to see that Lara Jean’s time volunteering at the nursing home was included. One of the most notable introductions to the sequel is the character of John Ambrose McClaren, played by Jordan Fisher. Fisher brings as enthusiastic and charming a performance as Condor. It’s not easy introducing a second love interest after the girl gets the guy in the first movie, but John Ambrose provides solid competition to Peter Kavinsky.

   While the sequel has its strengths and is ultimately enjoyable to watch, it pales in comparison to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The original movie was an incredible amount of fun and felt like a refreshing addition to the teen romcom genre. Despite Condor and Fisher working to carry the movie on their shoulders, P.S. I Still Love You just doesn’t maintain the charm of its predecessor.

   There are a number of small factors contributing to this, including Lara Jean’s little sister, a fan favorite, not getting as much screen time. Ultimately, the biggest difference lies in directing. Susan Johnson directed the first movie but Michael Fimognari directed the new one. While the original film felt earnest and comfortable in its healthy dose of corniness, the new one feels like they took the list of plot points from the corresponding novel and half-heartedly spliced them together with lots of narration from Lara Jean and pop music interludes. The first movie felt like it was made with love. It was a heartfelt tribute to teen romcoms and the young women who daydream about them. The new one feels like it was made to get a paycheck.

   Still, rewarding elements from the first movie survive into the second one and Condor and Fisher’s performances are truly delightful. Don’t expect P.S. I Still Love You to be as refreshing and charming as its predecessor, but if you’re in the mood for a fun, light flick, it’s still worth a watch.

Fimognari, Michael, director. To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. Paramount Pictures, 2020.

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