To All The Boys: Always and Forever is a sweet culmination to one of the most unexpectedly mature, funny and endearing teen rom coms of this generation.
It’s senior year and Lara Jean is considering her post-graduation plans. Her boyfriend Peter (Noah Centineo, Charlie’s Angels) has everything mapped out: they’ll both get accepted into Stanford and get married.
Lara Jean has the plan going a bit further with them buying a house, having a baby and becoming a famous author.
Those plans get upended when Lara Jean’s college acceptance doesn’t come through and her backup options becomes the main focus…right up until a fateful senior trip to NYU introduces a new school in the mix that wasn’t part of Lara Jean or Peter’s plans.
If that wasn’t enough, Lara Jean’s father, Dr. Covey (John Corbett) is planning to propose to his girlfriend, Trina (Sarayu Blue), which will definitely further shake up her life.
Trina is hardly portrayed as a terrible future stepmother and these blended family growing pains are handled in a welcome non-cliché approach.
With this installment, screenwriter Katie Lovejoy doesn’t bother introducing a new romantic love interest. The threat of maintaining a long distance relationship is more menacing than yet another guy with good hair, a chiseled physique and dreamy hair. It’s the right decision considering Lara Jean definitively choosing Peter at the end of To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You.
While there’s no new love interest in Always and Forever, Lovejoy and series director Michael Fimognari spend a bit more time on Lara Jean’s friend circle and her sisters, Kitty (Anna Cathcart) and Margot (Janel Parrish).
One of my favorite aspects of the sisters is how it celebrates the sibling dynamic instead of constantly having Lara Jean and younger sister Kitty bickering constantly. There’s a deep love with the girls and it’s something we don’t see enough of in teen rom coms.
Condor is so charming in this role. She makes Lara Jean’s journey through high school feel genuine, making the family, friends and romantic moments work. That’s tricky especially in the teen section of the rom com genre, but Condor holds everything together exceptionally well. She’s the main reason this series could believably expand into Lara Jean’s college years without feeling like it was just milking a successful formula past its expiration date.
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Centineo essentially is asked to play the perfect boyfriend. I appreciated the script gives him enough awareness with Lara Jean’s choices to not try and be controlling while also providing him with his own subplot.
I didn’t love the notion of Lara Jean losing her virginity on prom night as some grand romantic gesture. That’s likely the mentality of a lot of high school prom-goers so it rang authentic, but the film also doesn’t address the other real side of teen pregnancy. That would really derail the whole college plan.
As amazing a place as New York can be, I did wish Fimognari showed some of the less movie-friendly aspects of it as it seemed like Lara Jean got the tourist version without any of the grey areas and warts that make it so unique. Not one rat or anything.
With a one hour 49 minute run time, the film feels like a few random moments could have been shaved here and there, but the film doesn’t feel excessive. This is a farewell to a trilogy that’s earned a little extra time to take its final bows. But if Lara Jean wants to start writing her college chronicles, I’m completely down for a fourth, fifth, etc. installment.
For now, To All The Boys I’ve Loved: Always and Forever is a fine way to wrap this exceptional teen rom com series.
Rating: 9 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix
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