Heartwarming Teen Rom-Com
Incurable romantics of all ages should enjoy To All the Boys Iíve Loved Before, a teen romance that really surprised me. Sometimes films like this are fluffy offerings soon forgotten. But not this one. Itís a heartwarming movie with a clever plot and an endearing leading lady who draws us into her far-from-perfect world. And I am still thinking about how Lara Jean (played delightfully by Lana Condor) managed to work through her romantic problems without going completely crazy.
While growing up, Lara Jean didnít write in a diary like so many girls. Instead, she wrote letters to the boys she had crushes on. But she kept these secret letters in a special box hidden in her closet. She never sent any of them. Now a junior in high school, Lara Jean becomes unglued when she finds out the five boys concerned have just received her letters! To make matters even more complicated, her current crush happens to be her older sisterís brother who lives next door Ė AND is one of the letter recipients.
How will Lara Jean handle all this at home with her older (Janel Parrish) and younger sister (Anna Cathcart) and widowed father (John Corbett), plus at school with her peers and crushes?
A teen romance is fun to see.
The ups and downs entertain me.
To All the Boys Iíve Loved Before
does all that and includes much more.
Love letters sent and read at last.
Five secret crushes of the past.
The writer did not send them out.
So how did this deed come about?
Facing her problem is Lara Jean,
a teen not ready to come clean.
Still, she deals with each teenage boy.
Might one of them bring her great joy?
Twists and surprises happen here.
Yes, you will laugh -- and shed a tear.
Everyone in the cast appears genuine. And the three sisters are simply darling together. Jane Austen would be proud of them. They all have flaws, but their love for each other comes through loud and clear. In one of my favorite scenes, the spunky youngest daughter even stays home with Lara Jean at night just to keep her company watching ďThe Golden GirlsĒ on T.V. Playing the father, John Corbett projects real sensitivity in the way he interacts with his trio of diverse daughters (the serious one off to college, the middle one with social problems, and the outspoken youngest one.)
I also enjoyed watching the male actors portraying Lara Jeanís crushes Ė including those in the cute flashbacks. But itís Noah Centineo, playing the role of the boy who pretends to be Lara Jeanís real boyfriend, who stands out to me. His screen charisma reminds me of a young Brendan Fraser back in days of yore.
Kudos to director Susan Johnson for making everything fit together so well and to Sofia Alvarez and Jenny Han (who also wrote the novel of the same name) for their excellent down-to-earth screenplay.
(Released by Netflix; rated TV-MA.)
For more information about this film, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.