Review by Camden Ferrell
To All the Boys: Always and Forever is the third installment of the film series based on Jenny Han’s novels. Veteran cinematographer Michael Fimognari is back in the director’s chair after directing the film’s second installment. While the final movie in this series doesn’t tread new ground, it hits the same cheesy rom com beats as its predecessor and will please fans of the series.
Lara Jean is now a senior in high school. This year brings new challenges and changes in her life. She juggles her family, her future, and her relationship with Peter as new experiences prepare her for her future after graduation. This premise benefits the movie by being slightly different from its predecessors. There’s no gimmick like the first movie, and there’s no love triangle like the second, and this allows it to feel somewhat fresh in context of the larger story.
Katie Lovejoy’s first feature-length screenplay is as sweet and cheesy as one could expect. It pays homage to the rom com genre while simultaneously playing safely by its rules. This can lead the film to feeling very formulaic and predictable, but these movies revel more in its low-risk cuteness rather than any narrative deviations. It’s a sweet and simple script that is probably the best of the franchise even if it is just as boilerplate.
One could easily assess that the acting from the lead couple is strongest in this movie. After two movies, they both develop a genuine on-screen bond that is very believable while also being completely cliché. Lana Condor is as adorable and ambitious as she’s ever been as Lara Jean, and Noah Centineo finally plays a toned-down Peter. This allows the movie to feel more realistic, and it makes it easier for the narrative to highlight their connection.
The first film was about them finding love, and the second was about enduring love through the drama of high school life. The reason the third one feels more visceral is that it’s about pushing love to the limits while our leads are on the cusp of adulthood. It’s the most honest the series has ever been. It is definitely not without flaw, but there’s a certain spark present that the previous film’s lack.
While this is the most accomplished film of the series, it still suffers from many of the same mistakes. I’ve already mentioned the inherent predictability and derivative nature of these movies. However, the movie also fails when it comes to the film’s supporting cast. The side characters don’t feel fleshed out, and they sometimes skirt the fence of believability.
Even though the film is still incredibly flawed and never really becomes anything beyond a cheesy Netflix rom com, it is a satisfying ending for our protagonists. It’s the ending that was always expected, but it’s nice to see a franchise wrap up their story so neatly for its die-hard fans. There are many things working against this film, but fan service is not one of them.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever will please fans of the franchise and of the rom com genre as a whole. It suffers from the same predictability and cheesiness of the previous films. However, if you enjoyed the first two films, you would absolutely adore the final movie in the series.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever is available on Netflix February 12.