Thursday, February 11, 2021

To All The Boys Always and Forever Review: Same Great Characters, New Grown Up Challenges

Release date: February 12, 2021
Running time: 108 minutes
Starring: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, Ross Butler, Madeleine Arthur 
Directed by Michael Fimognari
Screenplay by Katie Lovejoy

As Lara Jean Covey prepares for the end of high school and the start of adulthood, a pair of life-changing trips lead her to reimagine what life with her family, friends, and Peter will look like after graduation.   

You will already know if you like this film, as you have probably already seen the first two films.  To All The Boys Always and Forever is the third in this love and literature trilogy that has Lara Jean and Peter facing new uncertainties as they approach adulthood.  The film has the same characters returning, and the same idealized high school romance experience.  I loved that all the characters came back and that we got to spend more time with this charming and diverse cast.  Lara Jean is still cautious and overthinks everything.  Peter is still charismatic and far too emotionally mature for a high school boy.  But this film is about these unconventional characters navigating love and relationships, and that is no different in Always and Forever.  The style and characters are the same but the issues that they are dealing with feel decidedly more grown up.  You get to see this bright, colorful cast experience life and tackle challenges in a level headed and far more emotionally mature way than any high school experience I had.  But you get the same characteristic style: bright colors, large romantic gestures, and an overall wonderfully shot high school romance drama. 

But what I also liked about this film is that it did feel like Lara Jean grew as a person.  She starts to make some decisions that will change the trajectory of her life and plan, and really grows into her own.  However, the movie starts with the similar sugary-sweet, idealized high school experience that we have grown familiar with in this series.  The choices at the start of the film do not have a lot of weight, and it isn't until the later part of the film that is really starts to get interesting.  It definitely feels like there should have been more development of the earlier choices; but as it stands those conflicts and crises resolved themselves pretty quickly in favor of the later, more interesting conundrum.  It almost feels like the weight and concerns at the start of the movie just were conveniently written out and should have caused far more tension.  And if you have followed the last few films, the story line did feel a little predictable, but that is not to say it wasn't an enjoyable movie experience.  I am just happy that we get to spend another hour and a half with this charming movie. 

To All The Boys Always and Forever keeps the same great style and characters, while presenting some more adult choices that could change the trajectory of our favorite unconventional couple's lives. 

Rent it.

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To All The Boys Always and Forever is available on Netflix on February 12, 2020.

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