On February 12th 2021, Netflix expanded their treasure-trove of teenage Rom-Coms, with the delightful To All the Boys: Always and Forever. This comes after the highly successful To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han, and the first two movie releases in 2019 and 2020. I’m not new to the series though, I’ve probably read the books 3 times since 2017. My expectations were high for the third movie, and it lived up to them, for the most part.
(Image: the Radio Times)
The overall style of the movie made it highly enjoyable, in my opinion. If I could describe it in a couple of words, it would be “whimsical, bright, and magical.” I loved the way graphics and drawings were used, like to portray Lara Jean’s trip to Korea and the distance between New York and California. The bright colors, fitting music, and cheerful scenery was everything I could have wanted. I thought the movie stayed pretty close to the book as well, except for some minor details I’ll touch on later. There were a lot of small details included, like Lara Jean’s mission to make the best chocolate chip cookie, and her adventures in New York City. Even a couple lines they said, it was directly taken out of the book. The romance portrayed in the book is very similar to the movie as well, and maybe even better in my opinion. Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship goes through many ups and downs throughout senior year and the college selection process, but their ending is absolutely perfect. I think the relationship might be better in the movies though, simply because of the actors. Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, and the rest of the cast have great chemistry, and it really shows. Lana and Noah added something truly special to their character’s relationship, and it came alive like I never expected.
Honestly, there really wasn’t much I didn’t like about the movie, but some parts were a little unrealistic, and some parts even made me sad. First off, I think the whole college selection process should have stayed closer to the book version. The book is actually set in Virginia, and Peter gets into the University of Virginia to play lacrosse. Lara Jean applies to be with Peter, but gets rejected and ends up going to UNC Chapel Hill. The movie is set in Oregon, and Peter gets into Stanford. Following the course of the book, Lara Jean applies too, but gets rejected and finds NYU instead. The differences in colleges tripped me up, but I also know it was due to the filming location. I just thought it was funny that Lara Jean thought she was going to get into Stanford, because no one ever really thinks they’ll get into Stanford. Then she makes the remark about NYU being the “easy one” which I also laughed at because NYU is certainly not easy to get into. It bothers me sometimes that movies like to only focus on these really elite Ivy league schools, because that’s not often relatable for many students. I did really relate to Lara Jean’s college anxiety though. The movie starts with her still waiting for a lot of decisions, and she says “I think the waiting might actually kill me.” I really felt that line, since waiting for my late-March decisions has been agonizing. The rest of her senior year was not that relatable though, especially for all my fellow 2021 seniors. Lara Jean and Peter are 2021 seniors too, but all of their experiences made me a little sad. Their senior reality isn’t in a pandemic, and they have a normal year, they tour schools, have a normal prom and graduation, and a lot of fun. It definitely made me remember everything we missed out on this year. So if you’re a 2021 senior missing the good old times, maybe take this into consideration before watching.
Even with some sadness though, I still really really enjoyed the movie. The romance is portrayed perfectly, the acting is stellar in my opinion, and it’s truly a sweet, whimsical experience.