BY KAREN SUROS
This article contains spoilers
Three years after the release of the first “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” movie, Netflix has released the third and final installation of the series: “To All The Boys: Always and Forever.” The end of her senior year prompts Lara Jean (Lana Condor) to begin considering her plans for college—and not all of them include her high school sweetheart Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo).
“To All The Boys: Always and Forever” starts off on an exciting note. Physically, Lara Jean is on vacation with her family in South Korea. Mentally, though, her mind is elsewhere, as she anxiously awaits to hear back from Stanford University, where she desperately wants to go to college so that she and Peter (who was already accepted with a lacrosse scholarship) can be together. Spoiler alert: things do not go to plan. Lara Jean finds herself drawn to New York University (NYU), despite it being across the country from her boyfriend and all she has ever known.
Subplots in the movie help shape the main conflict. As Lara Jean is undergoing this dilemma, she is helping her father and soon-to-be step-mother plan their wedding, grappling with the end of her senior year and generally trying to live her best life.
Spoiler alert: things do not go to plan.
First, it is worth noting that the movie paints an unrealistic picture of what applying to college is like. The anticipation is realistic enough, but the fact that so many of Lara Jean’s peers were applying to and intending on attending prestigious out-of-state schools was not entirely relatable. Also, the characters did not seem to be suffering from the dreadful senioritis that impacts so many of America’s twelfth graders today. The most realistic thing about this movie is probably Lara Jean’s rejection from Stanford, and the general uncertainty surrounding where she will be in just a few months.
Noah Centineo’s portrayal of Peter Kavinsky takes a turn for the worse. Centineo is a victim of the “hype.” When the first movie came out in 2017, he was practically a teen heartthrob. Over the years, he lost that reputation, whether it be because of scandal, choice words or another reason. In the film, his acting skills appear to have deteriorated, or perhaps they weren’t the best in the first place.
In one scene, he rips off a sheet mask and acts like it hurt him to do so. Skincare enthusiasts know very well that sheet masks do not hurt. Other questionable moments in Centineo’s acting include his dance moves, facial expressions and choice of words (although that is not entirely his fault when the script falls flat).
Noah Centineo’s portrayal of Peter Kavinsky takes a turn for the worse.
Despite some cringey acting, Lara Jean and Peter are as cute a couple as ever. They face the dilemma every high school couple who makes it to senior year is subject to: will they only ever be a high school couple, or do they stand a chance beyond those halls? They become less cute when Peter shows his dark side, pressuring Lara Jean into following him instead of her dreams. By the movie’s end, though, he sees the error of his ways and lets her know he will support her no matter what, even in her ultimate decision to attend NYU. Let’s hope this long distance couple can stand the test of time.
As is the trend with trilogies, and movies series in general, the sequels are never as good as the first movie. Maybe it was the movie’s novelty that made it such a hit but after a while, its themes have become monotonous.
Regardless, “To All The Boys: Always and Forever” remains loyal to the themes that made the first two movies such a success. Now more than ever, family and friendship means everything to the main characters. Even as they navigate their struggles, they’ll always have each other, sending a heartwarming message to the audience.
- Happy ending.
- Cringe-worthy acting.
Photo courtesy of Radio Times