When “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” debuted on Netflix in the summer of 2018, no one could have known the impact the film would have on the rom-com world and the popular streaming service overall.
The film, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Jenny Han, had all of the right ingredients: A fresh-faced cast (including the effervescent Lana Condor as Lara Jean Covey and the over-night heartthrob Noah Centineo as Peter Kavinsky), a high-school level, yet still intoxicating love triangle, a catchy soundtrack (who doesn’t still hum Lauv’s “I Like Me Better” when thinking of this flick), and a story that left audiences wanting more.
And more is what we got.
“To All the Boys 2: P.S. I Still Love You” debuted this week on Feb. 12, and the highly anticipated sequel is already causing quite the buzz on social media. Although it’s not certain just how well the viewership has been for the second edition to the TATBILB universe, one can only imagine the steam it has after 2018’s film was said to be one of the “most viewed original films ever with strong repeat viewing” on Netflix.
The sequel begins with seemingly the same upbeat aesthetic. The beautiful landscape of the pacific northwest acts as a gorgeous backdrop to the story, which starts off with Lara Jean and Peter together, as a real couple. Condor as Lara Jean is just as charismatic as she was in the first film with her “old soul” tendencies and way of making everything seem a bit more romantically climatic—which most of us can relate too at that age—and Centineo is just as convincing as the ever-popular yet slightly-wounded Peter Kavinsky. In fact, the whole cast works really well together, just as they did in the first film, which is one of the reasons why the story meshes so well.
One new addition comes in the form of an old flame of Lara Jean’s, the last receiver of one of her infamous letters. John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher) comes into the mix right at the beginning of the film by answering Lara Jean’s letter with one of his own. Already the audience is a bit clued in on the fact that this guy and Lara Jean match—hand-writing letters is an art form not many take on, and Lara Jean feels the same way.
Then, John Ambrose begins volunteering conveniently at the same nursing home as Lara Jean (which is also where we are introduced to one of the other impressive new characters, Stormy, played by Holland Taylor).
If you are a fan of any rom-com, you know this is a set-up for some drama.
Lara Jean begins to juggle her feelings for both Peter and John Ambrose, which may seem a bit preemptive given the hoops she and Peter had to jump through in the first film. But nothing really goes as planned, especially when on the battlefield of love, does it?
What happens throughout the remainder of the film involves more flirting, some heartbreak, a mended friendship (which, without giving too much away, was one of the best resolutions of the film), lover’s quarrels and plenty of emotional declarations that mimic the same energy as the first film. And that’s what we’re really looking for when watching a rom-com, right? At least when I watch one, I want to see moments of complete honesty, where people unleash their emotions and are raw—even when wrapped up in a bright-colored teen rom-com way.
The film ties up loose ends from its forebear well. Sure, it might not be as bombastic as the original film, but it does elevate the idea that sequels are always subpar—and there were high expectations. The plot unfolds well, and it makes sense. It’s a bit messy, a bit complicated and definitely a little sappy, but when you blend all of it with the relatable characters and the very well-written story, it just works.
So this Valentine’s Day weekend, grab your special someone, friends or just have a night to yourself and indulge in “To All The Boys 2: P.S. I Still Love You” for a true rom-com treat.