I have had a crush on Noah Centineo and his curls ever since he graced us with his presence in To All the Boys I Loved Before. His charm made such an impact on me that I continue to watch everything he is cast in, even his one-star films (I’m looking at you “SPF-18”).
This is why when I got tickets to an advanced screening of the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, my heart started to beat faster in anticipation. I watched TATBILB approximately eight times since its release. I even wrote my own version of Lara Jean Covey’s letters to ex-flames in order to move on (except, I never sent mine). I am years removed from high school, yet I still dream of a Peter Kavinsky and Lara Jean Covey kind of love.
Though when the sequel started to play on-screen I noticed that something was off. The feeling can best be described as ordering a slice of your favorite cake and realizing midway that they changed the recipe. The main ingredients were still there — we had the same cast — but there was something amiss. Perhaps it was the introduction of the handsome newcomer John Ambrose McClaren, played by Jordan Fisher. John is Covey’s childhood crush from model UN who not only received a letter but took the time to send a thoughtful response back. You know, the type of man who offers to help clean up after the party, plays you a song on the piano and volunteers with you at a retirement community. I was immediately brought back to the team Edward vs. team Jacob days. But this time, it was not clear whose team I wanted to be on.
Without giving too much away, the second film of the trilogy knocks our stars off their pedestals. No longer do they fit into their stereotypical ‘jock’ and ‘nerd’ roles but are finally portrayed as flawed high schoolers. Covey projects her insecurities onto others, conceals the truth while expecting honesty and is incredibly self-involved, as we all can be. We see Kavinsky pale in comparison to the intelligent McClaren. We see him steal the last pizza slice and we scream “you idiot” to the screen as he foolishly acts like every man we have ever dated.
The first movie was a fairy tale; it was validation from a major media giant that romantic comedies were what the people wanted. A reintroduction of a genre that never received enough credit. A catalyst that helped launch many more romantic comedies. But the second movie was the deconstruction of that very fairytale. A movie that showcased the complexity of human emotion and the messy (and cheesy) reality of dating.
While the first movie will always have a special place in my heart, the sequel forced me to think long and hard about my own life, to question what it means to love someone, and what the word forever really means. The film reminded me that relationships are hard work, but that real love is worth fighting for.
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You hits Netflix on Wednesday, Feb. 12, just in time for Valentine’s Day.