As I took my seat at the Paris Theatre for an early screening of To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, the energy was palpable. Kira Kosarin, the host for the night, announced a fun trivia game with prizes for fans who could answer questions about the first film. My sister and I sat there a bit unsure of what was to come. The questions started easy, but soon progressed into hyperfixation of the small details of the film. Yet each question was answered almost immediately, being screamed from all directions. These girls would know what posters grace the walls of Peter Kavinsky’s bedroom.
Based on the book series by Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before tells the story of Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor), a Korean-American high school student whose love letters from the past are sent by her little sister. One of those letters was addressed to the most popular boy in school Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo). When the film was released on Netflix in 2018, Centineo became famous overnight as the new YA heartthrob even though the main character of the film is Lara Jean. At the end of the first film, Lara Jean and Peter officially become a couple. However, Lara Jean soon finds a response from John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher), one of the other recipients of her letters. At the start of the sequel, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, Lara Jean is conflicted about dating Peter and figuring out if and how to respond to John Ambrose. When John and her end up volunteering at the same retirement home, things get a little more complicated. Because of this newly formed love triangle, people started declaring themselves either Team Peter or Team John.
Jenny Han and the cast came onstage before the showing, Centineo receiving screams and applause. When asked what team they were on, they intelligently replied Team Lara Jean, trying to resolve the issues of the series like Twilight. When the entire conversation around Twilight became Team Edward or Team Jacob, Bella, the woman at the center of the story, was partially forgotten in favor of her love interests. This seems to prove a challenge to Jenny Han’s series. It is telling how Centineo’s career grew compared to Condor’s after the first film, specifically when the marketing of the story was about the importance of having an Asian-American female lead. At the showing, many people applauded when Han redirected the conversation to supporting Lara Jean and her desires.
The film was adorable, playing on Lara Jean’s innocence more so than the first film. As she navigates being a girlfriend for the first time, she constantly worries about wearing Peter’s jersey on game days to support him and other typical girlfriend duties. While sweet, it speaks powerfully to the YA conception of a perfect girlfriend and how anxiety inducing it can make navigating one’s first relationship. Peter is extremely popular and being his girlfriend comes with a certain level of expectation within their school. Jordan Fisher is swoon worthy as John Ambrose, giving Lara Jean an idea of the alternative to dating the popular guy. He plays the piano, volunteers, and is super sweet and understanding. Throughout, the crowd responding by squealing each time either boy showed up, laughed at all of Kitty’s antics, and felt seen each time Lara Jean stress bakes. I annoyed my sister with my constant comments and anti-Peter sentiments. It was a delightfully fun night as it is rare to get such vocal reactions from a crowd, where watching a film feels like a social gathering.
Even though my heart is Team John, my mind is with Lara Jean. I hope that as the series continues, Lana Condor gets the attention and future roles she deserves!
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You is available to stream on Netflix.