To All the Boys 3: A Love Letter to Rom-Coms

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Michaela Ely and Katie Keller, Webmaster, Staff

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a Netflix original rom-com released in August of 2018, based on the 2014 book with the same name by Jenny Han.

February of 2020 brought the release of a sequel, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You.

Exactly one year later, on Feb. 12, Netflix released an adaptation of the third book in the series, To All the Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Anna Cathcart, Janel Parrish, Madeleine Arthur, Emilija Baranac, Trezzo Mahoro and John Corbett reprise their roles from the first two films. Sarayu Blue and Ross Butler also reprise their roles from the second film.

After a spring break vacation to Seoul, South Korea, Lara Jean (Condor) returns home to Portland, where college decisions are looming over her. A trip to New York opens new opportunities, but she is reluctant to leave Peter (Centineo), as well as her sister Kitty (Cathcart) and her father (Corbett). 

ME: Throughout this trilogy, you can see the growth of not just main characters like Lara Jean and Peter, but of side characters as well, like Kitty and Chris. One thing this film did super well was continuing to develop side characters and not just leaving it as an afterthought. 

KK: I wish we could have seen the inclusion of some of the other characters who were in previous films. Josh Sanderson from the first film, portrayed by Isaiah Broussaird, was Lara Jean’s childhood best friend. He also played a big part in Lara Jean and Peter getting together in the first place. Only mentioning Josh once felt like a slight to a great character, and it wasn’t even in a positive way.

KK: I did think that the movie highlighted struggles that real teenagers face almost perfectly. Leaving behind what you know is hard, but those kinds of struggles allow a person to grow. While I personally don’t think highly of rearranging my life around someone else, I can see why these choices are hard: one wouldn’t want to let go of something they love.

ME: College is a complicated thing for many relationships, whether that’s platonic, familial or romantic. Lara Jean’s struggle to choose between those she loves and a place she loves is something all too familiar to seniors in high school. However, it has been said that distance makes the heart grow fonder and with that comes one’s growth as a person as well.

ME: A more technical aspect I enjoyed were the doodles that helped transition the film through time. They were unique, cute and served a purpose, which is not something that can be said for all film transitions.

ME: Now of course, a romantic comedy could never be complete without a “meet-cute,” a song and a prom scene. Even though this is the final film, the way Lara Jean and Peter met wasn’t revealed until now. Although I won’t spoil it exactly, it perfectly sums up a childhood friends-to-lovers story. A song is also a key part of a romcom and throughout the film, Peter and Lara Jean struggled to find their song which was a great metaphor for the struggles they would continue to face as a couple. The prom scene, while a total cliche, met every expectation as a prom scene and defied expectations as well.

KK: I didn’t think highly of certain scenes between Lara Jean and Peter. Teenagers’ bodies are a raging battleground of hormones and throughout the movie, Lara Jean is an emotional mess. Lara Jean is a character I’ve always admired because of her geeky introvertedness and her loyalty to who she is. I saw a completely different character when she threw herself at Peter. It made her look desperate and trashy, two things she most definitely is not. 

ME: This film sometimes to me does feel like every other romcom in the universe because these issues that Peter and Lara Jean struggled with are nothing new. Romantic comedies are full of cliches and always seem to focus on the same issues. Throughout the film, you can see the impact these cliches have on Lara Jean’s and Peter’s relationship as there is pressure for it to be perfect all the time. When anything is in the way of this “happily ever after,” it causes nothing but stress and frustration, and in reality, relationships aren’t perfect and never will be.

KK: Cliches are never really great to see in movies because for me personally, when there’s too many cliches, it makes the story too predictable. When the story is too predictable, then it feels boring and uninspired. Predictability is okay to a degree, but there has to be less predictable parts in order to keep the audience engaged.

ME: Often it seems that directors don’t read the books they base their films off of. However, while some details of the movie are different from the book, the story still remains true and invokes the same emotions. Film adaptations are often disappointing but this trilogy has continued to be impressive in staying true to the story.

Despite the drawbacks it suffered, the movie provided a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. It had its fair share of cliches, but ultimately, it was a great slice-of-life rom-com. There is some inappropriate language and some scenes that aren’t so family-friendly, but all in all, a sweet movie that we definitely recommend.