Oh how the mighty have fallen… To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was the best romantic comedy of 2018, it boasted a funny and emotional story, great performances, loveable characters and was an overall very fun coming-of-age rom-com. Now, we have this sequel following Lara Jean (Lana Condor) who stumbles into an old love interest and sparks a love triangle between this new arrival and her current boyfriend, Peter (Noah Centineo).
To say this film is a step down from its predecessor would be an understatement. To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is boring for the majority of its runtime. For a supposed romantic comedy, it’s not romantic, it’s not funny and it’s not really fun or enjoyable for more than 15 total minutes. The plot takes a while to really get going with the first act being quite slow and wishy washy. It’s supposed to set the characters and story up in a way that wants you to see more, but it doesn’t really do that. With a subpar and rather boring first act, I was still interested to see how the teased love triangle dynamic would play out, that is until that dynamic is barely even present and the second act just floats on through with next to no engaging content.
The entire story, from beginning to end, just feels very weak, as if the writers were scrounging for scraps of a story to try and string together another rom-com hit. I know this is adapted from the book sequel to the first book but maybe it just doesn’t translate as well to a feature film. There’s not really any core focus throughout, there’s no emotional engagement in the main arc and the entire film is, to be honest, a bit of a waste of time. I was way more interested in the story arc of John Corbett’s character, who has maybe 10 minutes of screen time, than the arcs of Lara Jean, Peter and John Ambrose. It speaks volumes to the fact that just because the first film was a charming hit, bringing back the same characters and throwing them into a weak story doesn’t magically make it an instant hit… it actually takes some good writing.
I don’t have anything bad to say about the performances. I think both Lana Condor and Noah Centineo tap right back into their characters and deliver fairly strong performances that let you buy into the story to an extent. The newly cast Jordan Fisher, as John Ambrose, doesn’t actually have a tonne of memorable moments. Considering he’s such a major part of the film, his presence is very easily forgotten when thinking back on the movie. I think his performance is fine, it just goes back to the writing of the character into the story.
Despite the main cast not really working, some of the supporting cast hold the more engaging scenes or performances. I already mentioned John Corbett, who has an interesting arc and one I would have actually liked to see more of, but I also loved Holland Taylor, who plays a senior citizen in contact with Lara Jean. The former Two and a Half Men star captures the fun and charisma that the film is missing in every other scene. Her scenes with Lara Jean are some of the best scenes of the movie because they’re actually quite fun. The scenes on their own may not be fantastic, but when placed against the dryness of the rest of the movie, they stand out.
I’ve been trying to hone in on some of the elements that I loved, or at least liked, but aside from the strong performances, brief moments of fun and engagement and a very enjoyable soundtrack, there’s not much in this sequel to love. It’s not good, quite boring for the majority of the runtime and 90% of the time you’re left thinking that you should have just watched the first one again. There’s no doubt it’s going to be popular with the teen crowd, and will 100% influence a third film just based on the social media popularity of Noah Centineo and the fact that there is a third book. However, I can’t see this franchise going anywhere that can replicate the easy, laid-back rom-com quality of the first film, considering how much of a step down and disappointment this was.