When Netflix released the film adaptation of Jenny Han’s fabulous novel, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, fans were nothing short of obsessed. The book series has three stories about Lara Jean, including To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You and Always and Forever, Lara Jean.
Now, Netflix has released the second installment of film adaptations for the series: To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, and though it is still fun to watch, it lacks the excitement and charm that the original film brought to the story.
By far the biggest issue with the film is the lack of time to provide character development. There are several instances where the screenplay strays away from specific plot points of the novel, and it detracts from the overall quality of the film.
The biggest example of this is the relationship between Stormy (Holland Taylor) and John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher). In the book, Stormy is John Ambrose’s grandmother, and that relationship is completely non-existent in the film. This was part of the character development issue, because we only got to see John Ambrose in relation to his feelings with Lara Jean, which weren’t explored nearly as in depth as they should’ve been. It would’ve added a lot to John Ambrose’s character if we could’ve seen that dynamic.
The first film worked for Peter (Noah Centineo) and Lara Jean (Lana Condor)’s character developments, because they had a lot of time to showcase their dynamic. However, the first film completely misrepresented Josh (Israel Broussard) and took no time to develop his character or the dynamic between him and Lara Jean.
History repeats itself with this film where John Ambrose is concerned, because even though he isn’t exactly misrepresented, the integrity of his character arc is severely lacking. Even the relationship between Peter and Lara Jean isn’t developed as much as it could’ve been. The lack of development in the screenplay really took away from the viewing experience.
The writers aren’t solely to blame for the lack of relationship development. The returning cast, other than Anna Cathcart’s performance as Kitty Covey and John Corbett as Dr. Covey, doesn’t bring anywhere near the same type of energy as they did in the first film. Condor’s performance as Lara Jean was so charmingly awkward and fun to watch in the first film, but in this film she seemed to lack all of the charm and bring all of the awkward. Centineo was extremely dry as Peter, and even Lara Jean’s sidekick Chrissy (Madeleine Arthur) seemed tired. The whole film seems like the cast was just off their game during filming.
Two consistencies of the first film and the sequel are the quality of the film production and the music. The score and the soundtrack are incredibly well done, and each shot throughout the film is beautiful and adds to the aesthetic. The only issue with the music is when Lara Jean begins to mouth the words along with the song “Moral of the Story” by Ashe playing in the background of the scene, because it totally detracts from the situation at hand and reads as childish.
Overall, there was simply an aura of charm missing from the sequel that radiated off of the first film. Though Jordan Fisher’s performance in To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is truly a saving grace, it’s not enough for the film to reach the standard set by its predecessor.