A lot of teen movies are about couples forming fake relationships and then, spoiler alert, falling in love for real. It’s probably because to teenagers, this seems like a good idea. If you could just set the rules for your relationships in advance, it would save all those uncomfortable feelings that come with real relationships. And then the ultimate fantasy that the fake partner will see through the charade and realize how great you were all along.
The ruse of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is rather complicated to set up. Lara Jean (Lana Condor) is a shy teenager. She’s had crushes on five boys in her life, including her older sister Margot (Janel Parrish)’s latest ex, Josh (Israel Broussard).
So Lara Jean has written love letters to each of those five boys and kept them in a box in her closet. When her younger sister Kitty (Anna Cathcart) mails the love letters, Lara Jean is afraid that Margot will think she’s now making a move on Josh. So she leans into the Peter (Noah Centineo) love letter to avoid dealing with Josh.
Turns out Peter also wants to make his ex-girlfriend Genevieve (Emilija Baranac) jealous, so he and Lara Jean sign a contract for their ruse. The other letters get resolved rather quickly so the film is less about the letters than the love triangle between Lara Jean, Peter and Josh.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a perfectly nice teen comedy for this generation, and they can watch it right at home on Netflix. There aren’t any major laugh out loud comic set pieces, just the usual misunderstandings and people not saying the thing that would completely explain the situation.
But hey, any movie that sends kids positive messages like be yourself and tell people how you really feel doesn’t have to be perfect. Some of the dialogue may be jarring and on the nose, but it never doesn’t feel like teenagers talking.
Another thing that’s great about To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is that it’s three Asian sisters and it’s not a big deal that they are Asian leads. They make Korean barbecue and shop at Korean grocery stores so they’re authentic, but it’s a teen romance with a woman of color lead.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is sure to play in heavy rotation on teenage Netflix queues. There’s a lot more competition now than there was when we wore out our Can’t By Me Love or John Hughes VHSes, but I have faith that To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before will become heavily quoted by current high schoolers.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is now available on Netflix.