It is a sad time for the teen drama community. Despite its promising teasers and promotion press, “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” must be laid to rest with the countless other films that fail to live up to the classics of the 1980s golden age.
As the sequel to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” a B-grade teen romantic comedy, “P.S. I Still Love You” is a serious downgrade from its predecessor. The plot is flat and the characters are somehow even less realistic than they were the first time around. On the whole, the film is a redundant attempt to reclaim the hype of the original installment.
The film picks up just a few days after the first movie concluded, with Lara Jean Covey, played by Lana Condor, and Peter Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo, about to embark on their first date as a real couple. The magical chemistry between the two is accentuated throughout the night.
The main source of conflict for the film becomes apparent with the appearance of John Ambrose McClaren, played by Jordan Fisher, who is another recipient of one of the infamous love letters that were at the center of the plot in the previous film. In an immediate mindset shift, Lara Jean’s feelings for John Ambrose rapidly return. She begins to look for reasons to be mad or disappointed at Peter.
After going back-and-forth on the idea of whether or not she is a decent girlfriend, Lara Jean ends her relationship with Peter after seeing a picture of him and his ex-girlfriend, Gen, embracing.
This idea of Peter cheating on Lara Jean with Gen is a recycled conflict from the previous film and is not foreshadowed at all throughout the previous scenes, which causes it to feel incredibly forced. This is just the first example of contrived actions and situations that occur throughout the film.
There are various subplots throughout the film that writers J. Mills Goodloe and Jenny Han should have fleshed out. Lara Jean’s best friend, Chris, played by Madeleine Arthur, is seen throughout the film cuddled up with Trevor, played by Ross Butler, a new and truly random character.
This relationship has no function in the story. The only purpose for this subplot is to somehow include Chris, who possessed a much larger role in the first film. This is also the case with Lucas, played by Trezzo Moharo, who performs the role of the “gay best friend” for one scene and then virtually disappears for the rest of the film.
The only subplot that follows a three-act structure is the budding relationship of Dr. Covey, played John Corbett, and the family’s neighbor, Mrs. Rothschild, played by Sarayu Rao.
On the whole, most of the secondary characters are static and one-dimensional, a persistent quality in most romantic comedies.
“P.S. I Still Love You” is directed by Michael Fimognari, a newcomer to the film franchise who provided a refreshing, artistic flair within the frame.
I enjoyed a number of shots throughout the film, especially one with Lara Jean and Peter standing in front of the jellyfish tank. The various times that Fimognari includes glowing objects within his frame adds to the fairytale quality that the film is hoping to achieve.
The film concludes with the reuniting of Lara Jean and Peter. This is in spite of the fact that Lara Jean kissed John Ambrose moments before, a development that causes the plot to seem aimless.
If it was so easy for Lara Jean to toss out the feelings for Peter that she was deeply enthusiastic about at the start of the film, how are viewers supposed to get behind the supposed love that she claims to have for him at the very end?
“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” was altogether a tedious watch with its inferior plot and lack of character development. Fans of the previous movie can expect to be disappointed with the second installment of this Netflix film series.