This week, To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You became available to Netflix subscribers worldwide. The much-anticipated sequel to 2018's surprise hit, To All The Boys I Loved Before, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Jenny Han, the romantic new comedy reunites viewers with high school sweethearts Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) as they face the next phase of their relationship, while one of the final recipients of Lara Jean's letters, John Ambrose McClaren (Jordan Fisher), returns into her life. While everyone will have different opinions on the movie, either good or bad, there are a few key ways — in this writer's humble opinion, at least — that the sequel exceeds the original, resulting in a richer film.
You may agree or disagree, notably with the movie now available at your viewing convenience (opens in new tab) on Netflix. When you have sequel this highly-anticipated, there are certainly going to be a variety of opinions floating around the internet the next few days. But there are some notable ways in which To All The Boys 2 improves upon or excels compared to the original 2018 hit. And we'll list them all below. Let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments.
It's More Emotionally Rewarding
Now that the characters have been established and the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky is cemented, we get to spend more time with these two as an actual couple, away from the pretend public relationship they created in the original film. This notable change certainly goes a long way towards making them seem like more real, fully-realized characters, and it makes their relationship more sincere and believable, thus making the challenges they face in this movie more emotionally investing.
Similarly, the sequel takes careful strides to make John Ambrose an important figure in Lara Jean's life, not simply just another young man she wrote a letter to several years ago. It explores the conflicted feelings she faces as she realizes that John Ambrose is the first man she truly ever loved, and that she must reconcile with this surprising return into her life just as she's starting to go steady with her first-ever boyfriend. This ultimately makes the dramatic moments more punctuated, and the sappy sweet ending moments all-the-more rewarding.
It Offers A More Complex Romance Triangle
Now, this one might be up for debate. It depends on whether you were more taken by the fluttering adolescent feelings Lara Jean feels for both Peter Kavinsky and Josh Sanderson (Happy Death Day's Israel Broussard), or you were ultimately more entranced by the complications brought to Lara Jean and Peter's relationship once John Ambrose McClaren entered the frame.
For me, I was ultimately in the latter category. In the first movie, it was only a matter of time before Peter and Lara Jean cemented their relationship status for real, notably since there wasn't any real danger of Lara Jean betraying her sister by forming a relationship with Josh. With P.S. I Still Love You, however, it becomes apparent that Lara Jean and John Ambrose's relationship has played a big factor into making these teens the people they are today, and this is all happening while Peter and Lara Jean must face the challenges that come with a maturing relationship. Add in the complex history between Peter and John Ambrose, and this a recipe for serious relationship drama.
There Are Better Character Dynamics
As established earlier, now that we know who Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky are as people, To All The Boys 2 (which should have been called 2 All The Boys, for the record), allows the characters to interact and communicate with each other in more sincere, believable ways. Additionally, whenever John Ambrose enters the scene, the ways in which they intertwine with their personal backstories is more investing than the romantic triangle between Lara Jean, Peter Kavinsky, and Josh Sanderson, where Lara Jean was the only real, honest connection between these three characters. This time around, it is apparent that these three characters have a history together, outside of their romantic relationships, and it makes the dynamics found between them more investing to watch. There are more stakes in place, and you believe that Lara would both want to stay with Peter AND get together with John too.
There's Better Korean Representation
One of the most rewarding aspects of To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is allowing the main character's Korean heritage to have a greater presence in the narrative. While it wasn't necessarily ignored in the first movie, it gets ample time to flourish in this movie, particularly with a touching sequence where Lara Jean, her father (John Corbett), and Lara's younger sister, Kitty (Anna Cathcart) visit Lara and Kitty's grandmother for a holiday service. It's a moment where representation is able to be seen and it shows us a holiday sequence that rarely — if ever — gets seen in an American movie like this. It's a nice moment, and hopefully, the filmmakers at hand here are encouraged to include more moments like this one in the forthcoming third movie.
There's More Emotional Maturity
As a result of the characters being older, as well as the central relationship being more established at this point in the film, To All The Boys 2 helps to establish more emotional maturity between our two main characters, letting us see them grow as characters while also facing more nuanced troubles. It's not so much a matter of whether or not they'll get together, but if they can continue to stay together when difficulties are found in their paths. Most notably, when their personal histories factor into their relationship, it gives them pause and it causes them to elevate their romantic status — and there are undoubtedly problems along the way. It can get melodramatic. At its core, though, this central relationship is grounded and complex than before.
A Richer Understanding Of The Characters
Having already played these characters once before, it's apparent that the actors on hand have a better, richer understanding of their characters. This helps to bring more intuitive, authentic performances from the actors, while also making the emotional beats more resonant due to their greater sense of authenticity. Additionally, when it comes to the filmmakers on hand here, while there is a new person in the director's chair, there is a sense that the screenwriter and producers have a better understanding of these characters as well, and a better sense of patience and care for their cares and troubles, giving them more scenes where characters live and breathe, away from establishing over-heightened emotional beats (well, mostly, at least).
What did you think of Netflix's To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You? Did you like it more than the first movie? Let us know in the comments below.
Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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