8/10 Modern romantic comedies today tend to be extremely cliché, repetitive and predictable and while “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” doesn’t break a ton of new ground, the incredible cast, relatable characters and heart that the film has really sets it above and beyond most rom coms today. Before I continue to dive into why I really enjoyed this film, I will get the couple negative aspects out of the way first. Yes, there are predictable moments and some moments that were very questionable. For example, our main protagonist is sitting on a guy’s lap in a hot tub making out and somehow everyone equates that to sex…clearly these people have never actually seen people having sex before because there is quite a distinction between the two. Minor moments like Lara Jean getting picked up by her love interest, Peter, going to her favorite café, and then they part ways and she is magically home in the next scene, despite not having gotten a ride back from him and not having her bike to get home. She must have walked which seemed like a very far walk but the film doesn’t take the time to explain little things like that. Having a dead or absent parent is also a big cliché taken from Disney and we get two scoops of that here. Finally, in true Netflix form, this film shills hard for Subway. I was surprised none of our protagonists had Subway tattoos and the antagonists didn’t have Jersey Mike tattoos just to really bring the point home. Those minor flaws aside, this is still a great breath of fresh air in a rather stale genre. I had never seen any work from Lana Condor (Lara Jean) or Noah Centineo (Peter) prior to this film and they were both phenomenal, particularly Condor. A minor character who has limited screen time but steals every scene she was in was Lara Jean’s younger sister, Kitty, played by Anna Cathcart. Her bubbly innocence and charisma always lightened up the film when things got tough for Lara Jean. There are three sisters in this film and their love/fighting/relationships all felt very real and authentic while providing heart to the film. Their father also provided some emotional heft and he has some great, genuine moments with Lara Jean. The cast absolutely nailing it isn’t all the film offers. The story, adapted from a novel, is a unique one and I enjoyed seeing Lara Jean have to keep adapting to the ever changing situations around her. She is a great leading character and it was refreshing to see someone like her as the lead. The soundtrack suits the film well as it blends older classics with current hits. The pacing and run time were perfect so we are engaged from start to finish as the film never overstays its welcome. Above all, this is just a fun, enjoyable film to watch. I am all for weepy, depressing dramas that stir the soul but once in a while you just need to watch something fun, happy, uplifting and with good messages and this film delivers that in spades. I plan on using this week to review all three films in this trilogy and I have heard that this is the strongest of the three films. Even if the next two don’t quite live up to this first film, I will always be thankful that I got to watch this and discover some talented, young actors. Props to writer Sofia Alvarez and director Susan Johnson for crafting a romantic film that is definitely worth your time.

#LaraJeanIsNotMyLover / #AgainstOnesLetterJudgement / #LoveyCovey / #NoahsCharacterArc / #CateringByFiveGuys / #AllyOfIsrael

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