It’s a tale as old as time: the sequel fails to live up to the original movie. But as they say, the third time’s the charm.
“To All The Boys: Always and Forever,” the third movie in the “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” trilogy, holds true to this common trope. The film, which released on Feb. 12 in time for Valentine’s Day, is a sweet and charming ending to the trilogy that filled the hearts of starry-eyed teenagers and hopeless romantics for the past four years.
It does what all three “To All The Boys” movies do and combines reality with a fairy tale to create a love story that is relatable enough to believe but perfect enough to be the material of dreams. The creators take an awkward and average girl, Lara Jean Covey, through real-life and often embarrassing situations, but reality steps aside, and Covey gets a happy ending where most do not. It is a romance movie, after all.
This movie, in particular, sheds light on one of the biggest challenges to plague high school relationships, the tail-end of senior year. It follows Covey (Lana Condor) and her sweet high school romance with Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) as they face the crossroads of following their own dreams while still trying to salvage their first love.
After Covey returns from her spring break trip to Seoul, South Korea, with her family, she comes home only to receive the devastating news that she was denied from Stanford University, shattering her dreams of attending the same college as Kavinsky, who had previously received a scholarship to play lacrosse there. She then settles on going to the University of California, Berkeley, which would only be a short hour drive to Kavinsky at Stanford, that is until they take their senior trip to New York City. Covey ends up falling in love with New York University, which she later gets accepted into, but the 3,000-mile difference is enough to scare Kavinsky and end their relationship.
Will it work out? Can Covey and Kavinsky make up and commit themselves to a long-distance relationship? Spoiler alert: yes, they can.
Therein lies my issue with this movie.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good movie that tugged on my heartstrings and made me feel all the love on Valentine’s Day, but it’s sending the wrong message. Teenage girls going through this same challenge at the end of their senior year do not need another message on how the love will last the distance because, in reality, it usually doesn’t.
If this were real life, Covey and Kavinsky would try to make it work, but, by the end of their first semester, they would end up heartbroken, trying to juggle school and moving on, which I know from personal experience is no easy task.
Call me a pessimist, but a much better ending would’ve been if the two were to stick with their breakup. Covey could truly discover who she is in one of the most exciting cities in the world without the string attached to a boy back home. And personally, I think this alternate ending would’ve fit much better into the feminist era we live in where young girls are taught to be independent and that they don’t need a man to be happy.
For a second there, I thought that’s where this movie would take us. Their breakup after-prom made me hopeful the film wouldn’t end like every other rom-com. But alas, the creators took the money-making route and gave us the traditional happy ending.
One thing I am thankful for, however, is that the creators did not let Covey follow Kavinsky to college. She did what’s best for herself, a message I appreciate.
I guess in the end, they got the whole independence thing about half right. It’s a compromise: she gets to go to her dream school, and she gets to keep the boy.
Despite the opinion of my cold, reality-seeking heart, this movie accomplished what it set out to be — a cute, cheesy rom-com to fill our hearts with joy right before the day of love. It was romantic, funny and drama-filled. It surpassed my expectations for the quality of this movie, and I ended up really enjoying it, even with the unrealistic ending.