When the credits rolled at the end of Netflix’s To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, the older gentleman sitting next to me in the pre-screening press section sighed and said, “I think I missed something,” to no one in particular.
A lot has been written about how deeply ingrained societal misogyny has led to the devaluation of art by and about women – particularly young women. Bonus points if they’re in high school and in love and wear pink! But I honestly don’t think this man was coming from a bad place, because there truly are some experiences you can’t fully appreciate unless you’ve lived them.
I’m guessing this is why he glanced over at me, gauging my reaction, whenever the young women in the theater would laugh, whistle or clap – he has never been a teenage girl, but I have. And as a former teenage girl and longtime Jenny Han superfan, P.S. I Still Love You was everything I wanted it to be.
The movie follows Lara Jean Song Covey as she navigates her new proper ~relationship~ with endearing lax bro Peter Kavinsky after a lot of fake dating and dramatic miscommunication in the previous film. They go on their first date, celebrate Valentine’s Day and even discuss sex (!!!!!!!!) in a pretty mature way. But just when things seem perfect, John Ambrose McClaren (played by the inimitable Jordan Fisher of Dear Evan Hansen fame) responds to the middle school love letter Lara Jean wrote him that was sent out along with Peter’s in the first movie. Cue the teen angst.
For the last year and a half, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has been one of my go-to “comfort food” movies for its saccharine music and colors, endearing performances and perfect costuming. P.S. preserved all of these aspects, immersing the viewer in those sickly-sweet-then-sour feelings of being young and in love and – inadvertently! – having feelings for two people at once.
First of all, it needs to be established that Lara Jean driving Peter’s Jeep on their first date at the beginning of the film kind of invented feminism. I have always personally been pretty ambivalent toward Peter Kavinsky, likely because I am generally distrusting of handsome athlete types, but I will admit that he does not pull any punches when it comes to being so cute,boyish and openly smitten with Lara Jean. As will be discussed later, I am much more of a John Ambrose girl, but I acknowledge Peter’s appeal and I respect it. Game recognizes game. (Just kidding. I don’t have game.)
One of the very best things about the first film and Han’s series overall was the display of the profound love that exists between sisters. (As the middle child of three girls myself, I have never felt as seen as when Lara Jean almost killed Kitty when she found out she was the one who mailed the letters.) This sisterly love does carry over into P.S., though it definitely does play a smaller part.
But where Lara Jean loses a confidante in her older sister Margot (whom we see once over FaceTime at college in Scotland), she gains in Stormy, a rambunctious old woman who lives in the retirement community where Lara Jean volunteers. Stormy takes on a motherly role, giving Lara Jean (sometimes questionable!) boy advice and helping beautify her for the community dance.
We also get a peek into Lara Jean’s mom’s side of the family--I was delighted to find Jenny Han’s real-life parents cameoing as Lara Jean’s grandparents. Another addition to the family dynamic is Mrs. Rothschild, the Coveys’ neighbor, who actual DILF Dr. Covey starts to date. Have I mentioned I would leave everything behind for John Corbett if he asked me to?
And on the topic of men for whom I would leave everything behind: John. Ambrose. McClaren.
No offense to the guy from the after-credits scene in the first movie who got replaced by Jordan Fisher, but I am so glad the guy from the after-credits scene in the first movie got replaced by Jordan Fisher. PK might be the tall lacrosse-playing golden boy, but John Ambrose is the kind, genuine, adorable, considerate, stylish nerd who would volunteer at a retirement community with you and actually be nice to you all the time if you dated. He wouldn’t hang out with his ex under mysterious circumstances, making you insecure and jealous, which is more than some romantic leads in this film can say.
As I said on Twitter dot com last year:
There’s a lovely scene in which John Ambrose and Lara Jean sit at a piano, discussing a misunderstanding they had. John Ambrose casually plays beautiful music the entire time, underscoring their thoughtful discussion. This foreshadows the arc of their relationship, which, (spoiler!) despite a kiss, ends up simply being one of deep appreciation and friendship. Because come on. Did we ever really think Lara Jean could leave Peter? The girl is stupid in love.
Still. If they don’t at least give John Ambrose an appearance Always and Forever, Lara Jean I will have an issue. But until then, I will listen to “I Like Me Better” on repeat, watching this film while curled up on my bed, thinking about how painfully single I am. Happy Valentine’s Day, folks <3
Article Thumbnail: "P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before Book 2)"by khosonhb17 is licensed under CC0 1.0