[REVIEW] ‘To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You’ or a Guide to Teenage Romantic Escapism

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Contrary to what some may believe I don’t automatically love every romantic comedy that is released. In some ways I think I am a bit pickier than most because I love the genre so much, and I want the movies to be great.

Knowing this it might or might not surprise people I wasn’t as in love with the 2018 Netflix romcom based on the YA novel To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before as most people seemed to be. I didn’t hate it but I had some issues I will get into. Now we have the sequel To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You, which is also based on a novel by Jenny Han. I haven’t read this novel (I had read the original) but I think I actually prefer this sequel over the original film.

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My main problem with the original film is I felt Peter, while played with huge charm by Noah Centineo (who I think is going to be a big star), was a pretty bland character. There was no spunk to him. He basically did whatever he was told and agreed to whatever plan was presented to him. One might think of him as a manic pixie dream guy that is only there to help our heroine get out of her shell and nothing more. I like my leading man to have opinions and stand up for himself. It doesn’t always have to be the enemies to friends romantic trope but a little personality is important.

That said I do love a fake relationship plot and the leads were very charming with great chemistry, so I gave the original film a mild recommendation. Now we have the sequel where Peter and Lara Jean are actually dating and in a real relationship. I’m not sure why we needed to interject a love triangle with the also charming John Ambrose played by Jordan Fisher, but Peter got more to do this time around and showed more personality. He wasn’t always the perfect boyfriend, which made him more appealing and swoon-worthy.

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We also got some nice moments between Lara Jean and her family. Lana Condor does a nice job in the lead role and Anna Cathcart and John Corbett are lovely as her sister and father respectively. It’s certainly nice to see some diversity in teen movies and the family dynamics will be easy to relate with for adults and teens alike.

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On the Hallmarkies Podcast I talk a lot about the value of romantic escapism for women. This isn’t just for old fogies like myself but teenage girls as well. To All the Boys: PS I Still Love You does a good job of fostering this kind of escapism. I used to have movies I called ‘sleepover movies’, which were usually silly romantic films I would watch with my friends at sleepovers (or should it be sleepunders as we didn’t sleep much?). Some of my favorites were films like Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Princess Bride, Ever After, The Cutting Edge, Some Kind of Wonderful, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken and Dirty Dancing, .

With this sequel, the To All the Boys series definitely cements itself as the sleepover movies of this decade for teens. They are charming, escapist romantic stories, and this sequel makes me like the original even more. So go get your friends together, have a sleepover and watch a fun movie!

7.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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Everything, Everything Review

I’ll just say it- I love a good romance movie and we don’t get that many satisfying ones these days. Most are either of the 50 Shades/Unforgettable variety or the Nicholas Sparksian mold. It is with this in mind that I share with you my positive response to the recent teen romance- Everything, Everything. My niece loved the book and while I haven’t read it yet I intend to because I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

A movie like this depends largely on the chemistry of the lead couple and the believability of their journey together. In Everything, Everything Amandla Stenberg stars as Maddy a young girl with an autoimmune disease that forces to stay inside her house all the time. One day she meets through the window her next door neighbor Olly played by Nick Robinson and they become friends.

The film is very clever with how it stages their initial interactions. Of course, it is texts and emails but it feels intimate and real and the two actors have terrific chemistry. Director Stella Meghie did a great job staging the interactions in an authentic way and the screenplay avoids too much melodrama.

I kept waiting for the story to go off the rails with an evil person thwarting young love or a dramatic cancer diagnosis but it was more subtle than that. I am sure some critics will say it is predictable and cheesy but I think it could have gone way more off the rails many times. It worked for me.

The only real flaw I had with it was one character gets off the hook a little too easily but that wasn’t a huge problem. I also appreciate that them being a mixed race couple wasn’t brought up once. They were just teens in love, as it should be.

There isn’t much else to say except I really liked it. Great chemistry, well shot and the emotional manipulation feels very gentle for this kind of movie. I think if women go with their girlfriends they will have a great time. My friend who went with me had a great time also so it’s not just me.

Overall Grade- B+

As far as content there is one scene of sensuality but it is pretty tame.

Here is my youtube review