Review: To All The Boys: Always And Forever Is A Worthy End To The Trilogy, Despite Concerns
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is one of Netflix’s biggest hits. In many ways, it’s what’s made Noah Centineo the star that he is today. With projects like He-Man and others on the horizon. But most importantly, the movie series is carried by Lana Condor, who is a powerhouse breakout performer who needs to do a lot more going forward. The ending of this rom-com trilogy with To All The Boys: Always And Forever is one of the more satisfying ends, despite my initial worries. Rom-Coms, at least in my opinion, can rarely land the ending of the movie, but usually, the experience is fun enough for us to forgive it. Always And Forever, however, gives a very cool ending to the entire series, in a way that totally sold me on it. So here’s my review of what I think is one of the best Netflix originals right now.
To All The Boys Stands Above Other Rom-Coms
Image via Netflix.
The To All The Boys series begins with Lara Jean (Condor) an incredibly interesting, quirky, and mature teen, and her love-life drama. The drama begins when five love-letters she wrote to her crushes over the years, accidentally get mailed out. All the boys react in different ways, especially the biggest crush, jock-hunk Peter (Noah Centineo). The two embark on a fake relationship to make Peter’s ex jealous, and for Lana to avoid awkwardness with another boy who got a letter.
Obviously, usual rom-com things happen as they begin to care for one another, things get complicated, and all those great tropes. The reason why To All The Boys works, as a film series, is that it doesn’t resort to cheap gimmicks or easy conflict to push the story forward. Namely, Peter is not the problematic, toxic, chauvinistic depiction of a male character that is in most of these types of movies. The differences between the ‘male’ and ‘female’ perspectives are always the lazily written source of conflict in these stories. But To All The Boys stands out from that by making the conflict circumstantial, instead of any one character actually acting like a villain.
How To All The Boys: Always And Forever Is A Worthy End
Image via Netflix.
The first film was all about the hook-up and the characters in love. The second film tested Lara Jean’s love for Peter by throwing a love-triangle into the mix. But even then, the storyline didn’t go down the usual avenues or testosterone pumping, chest-thumping jealousy, or rivalry that you would expect. Everyone behaved and reacted in mature and well-thought-out ways, which is rare for the teen rom-com. And all this happened without the teenagers in the story acting too grown-up for their years. As is the other case with most teen-dramas where the 16-year-olds behave and talk like 30-somethings. Played by actors who fall into the latter age group.
To All The Boys: Always And Forever continues the story of Lara Jean and Peter in a very mature way. This time around, it’s the idea of going to two different colleges that causes the conflict. Planning to be in the same college together, things take an unexpected turn when a fun school trip causes Lara Jean to become interested in a different school altogether. Risking their plans to be together, the two have to navigate the decision of staying together or breaking up to avoid a potentially doomed long-distance relationship.
The Movie Subverts Tropes All Around
Image via Netflix.
It’s refreshing to see a movie about teenagers, where they are well-rounded characters not making poor decisions. It’s too easy to see great stories and character where that is the crux of the story. Usually the excuse given is always age, and that the character is too young and naïve. But To All The Boys have depictions, characterizations and interactions that don’t rely on those shortcomings.
Both Peter and Lara Jean struggle with their status, but incredibly, the focus of the conflict is never their relationship itself. Lara Jean never compromises or sacrifices her future for a boy. Peter never scolds or chastises Lara Jean for making a decision about her future that could potentially end the relationship. A pre-climactic, post-prom scene, that caused me a lot of anxiety, ended in a way that I’ve never seen before. And it’s those moments that make To All The Boys: Always And Forever be not the typical rom-com.
It’s healthy, refreshing and totally sweet. While still causing enough drama and nail biting moments of tension for a highly entertaining movie. The moral of the story is far from problematic and the young woman’s judgment is never in question or condemned. Instead, the story is an exploration of the struggles between the head and the heart. But in ways that are appealing to any age, and not dumbed down for the supposed demographic of its audience.
To All The Boys: Always And Forever Is Sweet And Incredible
Image via Netflix.
Overall, To All The Boys: Always And Forever is a lovely little movie that showcases the three major stages of a young girl’s love life. The scenes with Lara Jean’s family are always the best. The way her father can bring her back from the brink of tears with just one unrelated comment, is total dad goals for someone like me. The relationship between Lara Jean and her sisters is heartwarming and the cultural influences showcased by the family is absolutely wonderful.
On top of a love story, the movie deals with relationships in general with a lot of heart that’s incredibly special. I recommend To All The Boys: Always And Forever to all ages and even the trilogy as a whole.
All three To All The Boys movies are currently streaming on Netflix.
Featured image via Netflix.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.