To All The Boys: PS I Still Love You has us crying out for more Peter Kavinsky
There is absolutely no denying that To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was a cinematic highlight of the last decade. Things might have been falling apart in the world, but for a brief time, a Netflix high-school film focusing on the accidental relationship between Peter Kavinsky and Lara Jean Covey reunited us a little, and made instant stars of the two leads, Noah Centineo and Lana Condor respectively.
The first rom-com saw teenage Lara Jean panic when her sister decided to jumpstart her love life, sending out a secret stash of flowery love letters to all of her crushes – before embarking on a fake relationship with Peter so she didn’t have to deal with the awkward fall-out of fancying her sister’s boyfriend. While it sounds like perfect eye-roll material, Noah and Lana’s chemistry made us all fall head over heels in love with their characters, with fans branding Lara Jean an inspiration and Peter briefly earned himself a place as the internet’s boyfriend.
All of the above meant the inevitable sequel, PS I Still Love You – the second book in Jenny Han’s franchise which the films are based on – had a lot to live up to.
Unfortunately for us all, it didn’t quite succeed.
The film begins with everyone’s favourite couple going on their first real date to a swanky restaurant, before Lara Jean is plunged into all the anxiety that comes with dating the most popular boy in school – as well as having to deal with seeing his jealous ex-girlfriend on a daily basis. Not to mention having to drudge through all of this while navigating her first-ever actual relationship.
Just when she thinks she has a handle on her love life, in walks former flame – and recipient of a coveted Lara Jean love letter – John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher), ready to tread on Peter’s toes and whisk Lara Jean off her feet. (We’ll just look past the fact the actor has changed…) John replies to Lara Jean’s letter and they begin volunteering together at a retirement home, with old feelings being stirred up.
But, instead of thinking things through like the LJ we’ve all come to love, she allows herself to get caught up in the emotions and the surprise reunion, like a character in the countless romance novels she basically knows word-for-word. It’s understandable – and obviously necessary for the plot – but can also be quite maddening for viewers. There are times you’re left questioning her decisions, wondering why she didn’t just explain herself like she would have in the first film.
All of the sweet moments with Lara and Peter have also disappeared, save from a paper lantern date. So much of what made us fall in love with the couple are nowhere to be found in the sequel, there are no adorable pocket-spins, no cute selfies, no surprise kombucha deliveries. In fact, they’re barely on screen together at all. While we’re meant to be invested in John Ambrose McClaren and all the ways he is so well suited to Covey, it makes us miss Kavinsky even more.
However, while there are a few flaws with the sequel, it’s an easy watch that will still make you smile. There are also scenes that are so refreshing, honest and needed for the target audience.
The trope about ‘losing your virginity’ is something that has been played out in nearly every single high-school movie and TV show we’ve seen since time began. But the moment Lara Jean gets honest about her fears over having sex with Peter doesn’t feel forced, and neither does his reaction to it. While her chat with Chris about ‘revving her own engine’ is such an important scene in its own right – and when Chris gets a beau of her own, you can’t help but squee at the sight.
Seriously, give Madeleine Arthur a spin-off right now.
But Lara Jean and Peter shine best when they’re on screen together, playing off each other and reminding us all of the excellent chemistry between Noah and Lana. Let’s hope there’s a lot more of that when the gang come back for a third film.
Until then, you’ll find us watching To All The Boys on repeat.
PS I Still Love You is available to stream on Netflix now.
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