Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) is as loved up as ever with Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). As they’re reaching the end of high school, Lara Jean has their whole future planned out, starting with following him to university. But a trip to New York makes her realise maybe another path is calling her. But will it even be possible to keep the romance with Peter long distance?
‘To All the Boys: Always and Forever’ (which at least isn’t as long as its predecessor’s title, ‘To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You’) kicks off with a trip to Seoul. It’s great to see Lara Jean’s cultural roots integrated into the narrative, which was so charming in the original ‘To All the Boys I've Loved Before’. Still, they feature in a more watered down version than before, and the same can be said for the other aspects of the threequel. This was an issue in the first ‘To All the Boys’ sequel too.
The original ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ was based on a great concept. A teenage girl experiences her worst nightmare as all the love letters she’s ever written to boys she’s liked get sent out to them. Then she pursues a fake romance with one of the boys, which develops (since we are in rom com territory) into a real romance. But the sequels completely rely on you seeing the original film to have any kind of connection to these characters.
Lara Jean’s sisters provide a balance to her persona as the younger one, Kitty (Anna Cathcart), gets her own boyfriend from the first time, her OTT romantic ideals a reflection on what she’s seen LJ go through. Meanwhile big sister Margot Song (Janel Parrish) cautiously advises LJ to prioritise her own happiness over her relationship. They’re all very sweet, as is her father Dan (John Corbett) and his girlfriend Trina (Sarayu Blue), who he’s planning on proposing to. It’s a shame we don’t see much of any of the supports though, since there’s such a big ensemble, and most of the focus is on the thoroughly talented Lana Condor, and the unfortunately bland Noah Centineo.
Like ‘The Kissing Booth 2’, ‘To All the Boys 3’ suffers from having far too many montages of touring, selfie-taking, parties, randomers dancing, and a bowling date. It’s like OK, we get it, you’re young, beautiful, and spoiled (and obviously the sightseeing is extra depressing in COVID era). They manage to squeeze in a prom (preceded by three “promposals” too), two vacations, a wedding, a family reconciliation, a romantic relationship reconciliation, and, let’s not forget, not one but TWO montages of clips from the previous two movies (which come at the end of the movie, by the way, not at the start when filling people in who haven’t seen the movies before might have been useful).
At 1 hr 50 mins, the running length is indulgent and unnecessary. There are no risks taken and it’s more of the same you’ve seen in the first two movies. An alternative ending would have been more realistic, but maybe that’s just the cynical adult – who this movie is clearly not intended for – in this reviewer. Dreamy, romantic teens only need apply.
'To All the Boys: Always and Forever' is streaming now on Netflix.