Netflix keeps spewing out these “original” movies week by week by week. I don’t have time to watch them all, so if I do watch it and review it for you here it is because of one of three things: 1. I happened upon the trailer and it peaked my interest, 2. Word of Mouth a week or two after its release, 3. Another Cloverfield Sequel. For TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, it is definitely reason #3. I’m kidding obviously, it is a combination of the first two. I’ve been hearing that girls love this movie to death the past week on Screen Rant and a bunch of other click bait websites, and that some males have even been into it too. So I went to trailer, was intrigued, and decided to watch. My verdict? Pretty damn good little Netflix original. And it all has to do with the believability of the dialogue, script in general, and all the actors and actresses involved, especially the lead played by Lana Condor (she played Jubilee in X-Men:Apolcolypse, but didn’t really have much to do).
Does it follow every single romantic comedy beat known to mankind? Absolutely. The movie has a classic rom-com set up (I know it is based on a trilogy of novels I just haven’t read it): Lara Jean, a 16 year old, who’s mom passed away when she was young, lives with her father and two sisters, the older which is about to go off to college. She is kind of a loner at school, but she has one best girl friend, she is good friends with her older sister’s boyfriend, and she has the classic “used to be best friend but lost her sometime after middle school because of popularity” rom com enemy. Anyway, she is really shy, and over the years have written (and addressed) 5 love notes to five guys she has fallen for her whole life, even though they all had no idea. The letters end up going missing from a box in her room, and suddenly the guys she wrote to in the past are confronting her about her letters. Who ended up sending the letters, but more importantly, what is going to come of all this, as Lara Jean’s life is suddenly upturned and she is the center of attention to everyone.
I’ve said this a million times in my reviews, I could go into more of the plot, like how one of the letters is to the most popular guy in school (and happens to be dating her rom com enemy) and another to her sister’s boyfriend, but the less I say the better. I have to admit, I should’ve seen the ultimate outcome of the story coming, but some aspects through me for a loop, and I know the reason why. I was basing my guesses on what would in the climax on the classic rom-com formula. The reason why the movie was so enjoyable is that it ended up not going down several of those paths and decided to take a more realistic approach to how this kind of situation would happen in real life. I kept guessing. And then I kept changing my guesses. I eventually got it, but by then the movie was almost over anyway, so it doesn’t really count.
The performances are wait makes the movie really, really stand out. John Corbett shows up as the lovable dad, Israel Broussard follows up his charming performance in Happy Death Day with another here, Noah Centineo from The Fosters plays a really down to Earth most popular guy in school performance, and Janel Parrish from Pretty Little Liars is good in her limited screen time as Lara’s sister. But it is Lana Condor, who plays Lara, the makes takes the movie to a more enjoyable and believable level. She hits just the right marks playing a girl that is on that borderline from being a loner and shy to starting to be the center of attention in everyone’s eyes. Her performance really brings out the character devlopment in Lana, and if played by any other actress, it could’ve completely felt two dimensional.
I could get into the whole SJW thing with the fact that all the studios that wanted this film only wanted it if the main character was changed to be white instead of Asian and all that sensitive mess, and that Netflix was the only studio that agreed to keep the ethnicity of the character the way it is, but I’m not going to get into it. The only thing I’ll say is that I believe that Netflix did the right thing of keeping the ethnicity the same and then casting Lana Condor in the role, because she is phenomenal. If this and Crazy Rich Asians shows America anything is that people are willing to seek out and give money to movies that aren’t whitewashed if they are great storytelling devices such as these two possess. If you haven’t already, go check out Crazy Rich Asians in theaters for a scrumptious cinematic meal, then go home and watch this for a very sweet and savory dessert.