Outisde of a few theatrical releases, the teen rom-com has found a new place on steaming services, Netflix having the biggest names in the genre at the moment with franchises like ‘To All The Boys’ and ‘The Kissing Booth’, Seeing as the more toxic movies in the genre get a lot of coverage like ‘The Kissing Booth’ and ‘After’ movies, it only makes sense to shed light on a rom-com franchise which is at the opposite end of the spectrum. This month, fans around the world said goodbye to Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky as their final movie ‘To All The Boys: Always and Forever’ debuted on Netflix just in time for Valentine’s Day.
SPOILERS FOR TO ALL THE BOYS: ALWAYS AND FOREVER ARE INCLUDED
There are certain genres which get a critical pass from me depending on how good they make me feel. Christmas movies for example only have one critique to meet and it’s to make me feel festive. Romantic comedies also have one critique to meet and it’s to make me feel all sappy and lovey-dovey which is very easy to do because of how much of a hopeless romantic I am. It’s why abysmal movies like ‘After We Collided’ aggravate me beyond comprehenesion because they think that being sappy, cheesy and respectful is boring. If a movie does manage to make me feel all sappy, it gets a pass. Would I think it’s a well-made movie with a cohesive structure and well-written characters? Not always. When it comes to the ‘To All The Boys’ movies, there’s this really weird order of events that happens. I watch the movie, fall under it’s rom-com trance and enjoy myself for two hours. The movie then ends and I move on and I never think about it again unless someone on YouTube makes a commentary about it. The first movie seemed to escape this phenomenon because like most people, it’s my favourite one. It’s a very entertaining movie with a fun premise and likeable leads? The two sequels however never really justify their existence and despite me really finding ‘Always and Forever’ to be entertaining, I don’t think it’s a movie that I will ever revisit.
If I had to describe this trilogy in one word it’s cute. This franchise doesn’t shy away from the classic cliches of its genre and it also wears it’s cute, innocent aesthetic with pride instead of glossing it over with edgy teens, non-stop sex and toxic relationships. That’s really the thing about these movies, they don’t really bring anything new to the genre, they just exist and they’re entertaining and that’s where it stops. Having an Asian-American lead is really refreshing to see because Lara Jean’s culture actually does matter to these movies and they treat it with respect. I highly doubt that these movies would exist ten-to-twenty years ago so it does make me appreciate this series more.
Seeing a relationship which isn’t toxic in a teen rom-com makes me want to praise this movie as if it’s the best thing on planet Earth which when you think about it… is pretty sad. That being said I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel overjoyed anytime Lara Jean and Peter showed respect to one another. Of course neither of them is a perfect role-model of what someone should act like in a relationship because both of them have wronged each other, even in this movie but the fact that they adress it, communicate and move on is what sets them apart. ‘Always and Forever’ specifically deviates a bit from the usual rom-com rules by focusing on what Lara Jean herself wants. She falls in love with New York City and wants to attend NYU but it’s impossible for her to do that and be close to Peter. I hate it when rom-coms put romance as it’s highest priority instead of actually letting it’s characters live. Lara Jean does seem like the type of person who would be intoxicated by New York and the fact that the movie lets her have it is necessary. Out of all the movies, this is the one that the target audience can relate to and it’s important to learn to make choices for yourself instead of following in someone else’s footsteps and not living to your desired potential. Is the ending cheesy as hell? Yes, yes it is and to be perfectly honest I enjoyed every second of it. Whether they actually do make their long-distance relationship last is another question which has two different answers based on who’s watching it.
It felt really surreal knowing the fact that I reviewed ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ all the way back in 2018. It’s insane how long ago that feels and how different life was back then. It feels like a full-circle moment talking about this last movie three years from then, especially with how much this site and I have grown. That being said, looking back on this trilogy, there’s really not that much to say about it, it existed, we enjoyed it and we moved on the second the credits started rolling. They are as cute and cheesy as can be and Lara Jean and Peter have definitely made their mark as a modern rom-com couple and I would ask for Twitter to give them the respect they deserve instead of being compared to ‘The Kissing Booth’ of all movies. I genuinely like ‘Always and Forever’ as an ending and as a movie. I won’t be crying because these characters are gone but I will miss the genuine innocence and charm of these movies. They will be remembered by many Lara Jeans to come who will look back on these movies the same way the actual Lara Jean looks back on ‘Say Anything’ and I can’t think of a better legacy for her.