Review: ‘To All the Boys’ sequel delivers predictable plot, toxic messages

Photo courtesy of Netflix. After Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky started ‘officially’ dating at the end of the first film installment, the couple must now face a new obstacle: another love interest, John Ambrose.

By Andie Chilson | Reporter

The sequel to the popular Netflix film “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” delivers a predictable teenage love story with potentially misguided messages for viewers.

“To All the Boys: P.S. I Love You” premiered on Netflix Wednesday. The movies, which star Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, are based off of the equally popular books by author Jenny Han.

The sequel picks up right where the first film left on with Lara Jean, played by Condor, and Peter, played by Centineo, going on their first date as an ‘official’ couple. The story takes a turn when a second love interest, John Ambrose McClaren, portrayed by Jordan Fisher, is introduced to the plot.

After the complication of the competing love interest is injected into the plot, the story unfolds in a disappointingly cliché and shapeless fashion. The story uses the same predictable tropes of a high school romance that viewers saw in the first film, but this time around it lacked the novelty and charm of the original.

The main character, Lara Jean, is so consumed with her new relationship that she fails to recognize her boyfriend’s flaws until another potential love interest points them out to her.

The idea that love, especially young love, can be all-consuming is a relatable, if not tired, theme. However, it felt like a missed opportunity to set an example for younger generations that your significant other doesn’t have to be the center of your world. Lara Jean did not appear to have any friends or interests outside of her relationship with Peter, making her a very one-dimensional and unrelateable character.

The aforementioned competing love interest, John Ambrose, is sincere and honest with Lara Jean, unlike her boyfriend, Peter. John Ambrose is very much the boy-next-door — honest, doting and likable — easy for an audience to get behind. Peter, on the other hand, lies to Lara Jean a number of times and apologizes with painfully trite one-liners that she all too readily accepts.

Towards the end of the film, Lara Jean finally calls Peter out for his dishonesty. When John Ambrose finally shoots his shot with Lara Jean, she rebuffs him in a jarringly selfish, inconsiderate manner.

The fact that Lara Jean gave Peter chance after chance despite his dishonesty and lack of ownership for his mistakes sets a deeply unhealthy example for the younger audiences that this film is marketed towards. The overarching message of the film seems to be: if you love someone enough (or, rather, you think you love someone) you should be willing to overlook their flaws for the sake of a happily ever after.

Netflix has produced a number of dynamic, substantive films in recent years, but “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is decidedly not one of them.