Anyone who has the good fortune of knowing me well will be aware of my undying love for sappy rom-coms. From Hugh Grant classics to Disney Channel hits, I enjoy nothing more than a mushy love story with a predictable plot, much to the chagrin of my film-connoisseur friends. The original To All the Boys I Loved Before scratched all these romance comedy itches, and so the announcement of the second instalment was an exciting update. Unfortunately, I have to report that the cupid’s arrow of the sequel disappointingly failed to hit its mark.
Arguably the most glaring, obvious issue lies in the continuity errors that both lovers of the film and critics alike picked up on. The change from a white, blonde John Ambrose to Jordan Fisher is an understandable enough recasting, and I’d say the diversity is a welcome change. What isn’t so understandable is the disconnect between the ending of the first film and the events of the second, which isn’t so much a deliberate director’s choice as a failure on the team’s behalf to comprehensively think ahead to the possible sequels.
The original To All the Boys I Loved Before scratched all these romance comedy itches, and so the announcement of the second instalment was an exciting update
The ending of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before pictures a beaming John Ambrose at Lara Jean’s door, letter and flowers in hand. The second film ignores this completely, and has the two coincidentally meet at the retirement home they are volunteering at. There is no explanation or attempt to connect the two, which could have easily been done through one of Lara Jean’s many daydream scenarios. Instead, the continuity error is left to hang and, quite frankly, the rest of the film wasn’t good enough to excuse the disconnect.
Problematic behaviour within the film is another aspect many have highlighted, and rightly so. The Twitter noise, much to my surprise, seemed to incite a kind of fictional cancel culture on Noah Centineo’s character Peter Kavinsky for obstructing the idyllic romance between the female protagonist and John Ambrose. While I definitely take issue with some of Kavinsky’s actions, I feel like the character of Lara Jean deserved more flack for her actions and didn’t really deserve the neat, happy ending she was awarded.
Far from dismissing her insecurities, I understand the worries she has about the solidity of her relationship with Peter. The decision to highlight the issues within the couple rather than presenting it as the unattainable epitome of love roots the romance in reality. No couple is perfect, Netflix tells us, not even the ones the masses on the internet aspire to emulate. However, Lara Jean is massively hypocritical throughout, a toxicity that isn’t called out.
Arguably the most glaring, obvious issue lies in the continuity errors that both lovers of the film and critics alike picked up on
While still in a relationship with Peter, Lara Jean leads on another potential love interest. She fails to tell John Ambrose of her taken status and admits she likes him in an internal monologue. However, instead of communicating with either of the boys, she acts affronted when Peter voices his concerns. Quite rightly, he was annoyed that Lara Jean hadn’t set John straight when he clearly had an interest in her beyond being her platonic pizza provider.
Rather than listening to why Peter was upset, Lara Jean reacts as if he is being overly paranoid. When she discovers what he has done wrong, however, she allows herself to be upset in a way she denied Peter and ends the relationship. He was far from perfect, but Peter deserved to be kept in the loop and being made to feel like he was being irrational about his concerns around John Ambrose was grossly unfair. While he is called out for his past behaviour, nobody criticises Lara Jean, arguably perpetuating the message that her actions were entirely justified.
Even without the problematic aspects, the fact of the matter remains that compared to its predecessor, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You was a bit of a let-down
The cries of “Lara Jean should have picked John Ambrose!” may be circulating Twitter, but I’d suggest that she shouldn’t have been given the choice. By keeping both of them in the dark, she treated them unfairly and to ignore that is to (wrongly) justify her behaviour.
Having said all of this, I recognise that the film is aimed to be a light-hearted romantic comedy, so maybe my criticisms are venturing too deep. Even without the problematic aspects, the fact of the matter remains that compared to its predecessor, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You was a bit of a let-down. However, given the money it’ll nevertheless make Netflix I can’t see the onslaught of sequels stopping anytime soon, and so I doubt it will be the last we see of the pair.