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Movie Review: "To All the Boys I've Loved Before"

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

GRADE: B+



GENRES: drama, romance, comedic elements (awkward teens and parents)



GENERAL COMMENTS: Maybe it is nostalgia that gave this movie a few extra points. I grew up watching the John Hughes’ movies like “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club”. In fact, I think this movie is a rip off of “Can’t Buy Me Love”, which was one of my favorite movies as a kid. It’s an endearing movie. An easy watch. But the only originality is the premise of the movie – that the secret love letters that Lara Jean hid in her closet get mailed out.


The movie has all the elements of an 80s teen romance. Unrequited love. Scheming to get the person you actually want. An ex who still wants to get back with her boyfriend. Clueless parents. Love triangles. Yeah, typical fare.


This movie is a book adaptation, so I wonder if the book is any different from the movie (the book is named the same as the movie).


I’m not really sure why this movie got a 15 (good for audiences over the age of 15). Personally, I would be fine with watching this with my two-month-old son, and I might be fine with him watching it with me when he is older. It brings up some “adult issues”, and you do see the father of Lara Jean giving his daughter condoms. That’s about the most scandalous scene. Besides the hot tub. Okay, the hot tub scene was a bit steamy (pun intended), but it did the whole Star Trek thing where the camera panned away when it got to be too much. I personally believe children should be exposed to some adult issues so that they can chat about those with their parents. There was nothing lewd in this movie. But maybe my viewpoint will change when my son is five.



WHAT WORKS: I’m stoked to see a more diverse cast. More and more movies are going away from all-white casts and even including major characters of different skin tones and backgrounds. The main character, Lara Jean, is half-Korean (like my son). Interestingly, the family was a mixed-heritage family. Just like the mom in this movie, the mom was Korean, so that gave it a lot of points for me! 😊 And the dad is of a similar background as me.

As well, the dad was played by John Corbett of “Northern Exposure” fame. That adds even more points to my tally!


And I’m the type of guy who loves romantic movies…even predictable ones. If you are pretty new to movies, then this might be one of your favorites. It won’t be as predictable to you as it was to me. Though, for those of us who grew up on this fare, it might just be an evening distraction.


The movie also reminded me of “Chef” and “#realityhigh” because of how much social media the movie included. You have Instagram, Skype and emojis popping up. This doesn’t distract from the movie and just works in very nicely into the story.

As well, I liked the videography. There were a number of shots that peeked through doorways and had interesting angles and what-not. As someone who has dabbled in videography, that is one thing I enjoyed about the movie.


WHAT DOESN’T WORK: Honestly, the only reason I kept watching was because it just was easy to watch. I kept it on in the background as I was getting ready for the day. There really aren’t any plot twists or challenging moments. I didn’t get bored, but it didn’t really keep me enthralled either.


And really? Does every actor in this movie have to be a model? I think even the extras walking around were all models. I could see the casting call for this movie: “must have puppy dog eyes and make women swoon”. Just saying. The diversity for the movie stopped at body types.


Here’s an unbelievable scene. A hot tub at a high school trip for just two! Once you watch the movie you will understand. But come on! I never went on a high school trip (ever), but if I had and there was a hot tub, I think I would have been in it even if I didn’t have a girlfriend! I think the whole school would have been vying for time in the hot tub. Right?


In short, the greatest weakness for this movie was just that it was a cliché. There really was nothing new here. And that works for a new generation of movie watchers. But it was only slightly enjoyable for me.

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