Senior year of high school takes center stage as Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) returns from a family trip to Korea and considers her college plans — with and without her boyfriend Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo).
Honestly, I am shocked at how good the To All the Boys trilogy has been up to this point. The first installment in the series was one that I was late to the party in watching. I didn’t actually end up watching it until early 2020, mainly because I just didn’t have a whole lot of interest in it. A lot of teen girls get a kick out of these kinds of movies and it’s not hard to see why. Is there a charming lead in these movies? Yes. Two of them, actually. Do these movies include relevant and modern music that teens love? Yes, all of them do. And are they syrupy sweet and hard to resist smiling at? Yes, they are.
These kinds of films aren’t bad but if I was given a choice to watch a thriller that day or a rom-com, I’ll choose the thriller any day of the week. But I was genuinely surprised to see that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was actually a really strong romantic comedy with two incredibly likable lead actors and a central romance that you can root for all the way.
I feel like The Kissing Booth movies have tried so hard to copy the success of the To All the Boys movies and they have failed twice in a row now. Kissing Booth has an awful script with a toxic central romance and characters who aren’t too likable, even if the main actors working on the film are.
But ever since I watched the first To All the Boys, I was pleasantly surprised with the way it went. Sadly, it’s follow-up film from last year, P.S. I Still Love You failed to win me over in the end. They introduced a silly love triangle plot that felt so shoe-horned in and in the process, we lost a lot of the heart and charm that the original delivered so well.
Nevertheless, though, I was quite eager to see how the third and final film in the trilogy, Always and Forever, would wrap this story up. And I can happily say that this is a deeply satisfying and charming conclusion to this series even if it’s not as enjoyable as the first outing.
A lot of the film’s joy and heart comes from, you guessed it – Lana Condor and Noah Centineo. Their chemistry has been great as Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky respectively ever since the first entry. And even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of its 2020 sequel, they were still likable and fun to watch in that movie. And here, they are once again a delight to watch. They feel so believable as a couple and I never once felt like they were acting.
It also probably helps that the script that they were given this time around is by far the most mature and developed script in the trilogy. The first movie, which is still my personal favorite, has a major high-school coming-of-age feel to it, but this time around, we get a sense of how much Lara and Peter’s relationship has evolved and flourished since then. They aren’t dumb kids anymore. They’re grown-ups that are going off to college and are finalizing their plans for what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives.
If there is one majorly disappointing element to this film, it would be the lack of humor. The first film, in particular, was actually quite strong with its comedy and it offered a fair bit of one-liners that made lots of viewers laugh. This movie doesn’t necessarily focus on comedy so much as it focuses on the relationship side of things, which is still okay. If you’re a big fan of this series and these characters – don’t worry. You’ll end the movie with a smile on your face.
Overall Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: PG
Directed by: Michael Fimognari
Distributed by: Netflix
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Running Time: 115 minutes