After three years, Netflix’s smash hit rom-com series, “To All the Boys,” has come to an end with the release of “To All the Boys: Always and Forever.”
The teen-novel-trilogy-turned-movie-series follows Portland high school student Lara Jean Covey as she navigates the typical complications of being a teenager while juggling an even more complicated love life.
So between all three movies — “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (2018), “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” (2020) and “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” (2021) — which is the best one? Two of our producers, both self-proclaimed Netflix aficionados, decided to weigh in on each movie to decide.
Beware: Spoilers ahead for all three movies!
Meet your reviewers
Amy, features producer: In a wonderful and supportive relationship, yet somehow still very cynical about love. Hypercritical of and mostly hates romance movies, but also won’t watch anything else. It’s confusing? I am aware.
Chris, sports producer: I watched these first two movies on Saturday night with my cat and a pint of ice cream, so that’s where I’m at at the moment, for better or worse. As for my rom-com taste, nothing beats “When Harry Met Sally …” or “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” but I really enjoy watching other rom-coms try.
“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”
High school junior Lara Jean Song Covey’s (Lana Condor, who also happens to be a Seattle resident) love life goes from imaginary to out of control when five love letters she wrote — but never meant to send — to every boy she’s ever loved are mysteriously mailed out. She quickly finds herself in an awkward situation that will hopefully remedy her predicament: pretending to date lacrosse jock Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo).
Amy: I know I said I hate rom-coms, but the first time I watched this movie, I had to pause it like 20 minutes in because I was so overwhelmed with how much I loved it. This movie has everything I could ever want: a banging soundtrack, amazing wardrobe, solid writing and, most importantly, undeniable chemistry between Lana Condor and Noah Centineo.
Chris: This is the only one of these that I had already seen, and it remains very enjoyable and very watchable. Lana Condor is charming, relatable and easy to root for as Lara Jean, which makes up for the fact that I will never understand the Peter appeal.
Most swoon-worthy moment
Amy: The small, thoughtful choices that Peter makes — the notes he writes to Lara Jean during class, how he goes out of his way to avoid alcohol at a party because he knows he’s driving home after, the fact that he went all the way across town to find Lara Jean’s favorite yogurt drinks! — really make this movie great.
Chris: Lara Jean’s striped sweater. All those shots of Portland. OK, probably Lara Jean’s, “What do you put in a contract for a real relationship?” line at the end — but her dad and sisters standing in the doorway together watching her finally clean her room was pretty cute, too.
Most cringeworthy scene
Amy: The product placement. On multiple occasions, Lara Jean’s best friend, Chris, mentions grabbing lunch from Subway, in a painfully obvious, god-how-much-money-are-they-giving-Netflix-to-do-this kind of way. I’ve never seen fictional American teenagers so excited about sandwiches before.
Chris: The movie’s climax is a big fight outside the Covey house where all of Lara Jean’s secrets come out in front of everyone she loves — and her friend/former crush, Josh, storms in to confront Peter. Josh is wearing a hoodie with the hood up. Who just casually wears their hood when it’s not raining? Eminem?
“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You”
It’s a new year, and Lara Jean and Peter are officially a couple. As Lara Jean navigates a trove of official firsts with Peter — her first real date, her first Valentine’s Day — she finds herself leaning more on her friends and family to help manage balancing a relationship, and figuring out her authentic self. But when John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher), another recipient of one of Lara Jean’s old love letters, enters her life again, she’s confronted with her first real dilemma: Can she love two boys at the same time?
Amy: Did I like it? Not really. Did I still feel like maybe this movie has renewed what little light and romance is left in my heart? … Yeah.
Chris: This movie is incredibly dramatic. After making us sit through the aquarium, piano and time capsule scenes, Lara Jean ends up with the guy she had zero chemistry with the whole time??
Most swoon-worthy moment
Amy: Does Jordan Fisher’s face count as a “moment”? As a member of Team Kavinsky, I wasn’t keen on the introduction of John Ambrose as a new possible love interest, but Fisher’s sparkling eyes, dazzling smile, boy-next-door charm and … sorry I digress … were enchanting.
Chris: This exchange between Lara Jean and her friend Stormy on the topic of love: “Isn’t there a way to both get out unscathed?” “Not if you’re doing it right.”
Also, remember before the pandemic when we could go on coffee shop and diner dates?
Most cringeworthy scene
Amy: I mentioned that I adore Jordan Fisher as John Ambrose, but I felt physical pain any time he and Lara Jean reminisced about all the times they spent together in middle school. Who has that memorable of a middle school experience, let alone one that would justify you leaving your boyfriend for someone else?? I’m pretty sure I blocked those three years of my life from my memory. I could not recall a single moment for you.
Chris: There were lots of options to choose from in this one. I thought it was going to be a tough decision between the montage of Lara Jean set to the tune of an incredibly sad “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” cover, and the super awkward Subway sandwich handoff between Lara Jean and Trevor (played by Ross Butler, who is way too old to be in every high school show). And then … Lara Jean and Peter FLOATED away while they were kissing at the end. Buzzer-beater.
“To All the Boys: Always and Forever”
As Lara Jean prepares for the end of high school and the start of adulthood, a pair of life-changing trips lead her to reimagine what life with her family, friends and Peter will look like after graduation.
Amy: The second movie let me down a bit, so I was pleasantly surprised with this film. It did a good job of balancing the fun (traveling around the world, planning weddings, cute dates) with the heavy (major decisions about the future, attempts at reconciling broken relationships).
Chris: What matters most is that this was just way better than the second one. I was prepared to be pretty upset if Lara Jean bailed on her dreams of going to New York University for Peter, so all in all, this wrapped things up for all the characters quite well.
Most swoon-worthy moment
Amy: The beautifully bubbly opening scenes showing Lara Jean exploring and vacationing in South Korea with her family. Remember when we got to travel and eat at restaurants and spend time with the people we love? I think this hits me especially hard too, because I had to cancel a trip to Korea with my sister last summer. Ugh, what I would give to live in this COVID-19-free fictional universe.
Chris: Listen, I just really miss bowling alleys so everything about that date (the shirts, Peter wearing the socks Lara Jean brought him from Korea and Lara Jean’s pose after a gutter ball) was great. But the wedding!! Halfway through “P.S. I Still Love You,” I realized I was way more invested in the Covey family dynamics and Dr. Covey and Trina’s relationship than anything between Lara Jean and (insert any of the guys she liked). So Dr. Covey’s wedding at the end was quite lovely.
Most cringeworthy scene
Amy: This movie really cranked up the cheese between Lara Jean and Peter, to the point that they were getting all boohoo when they got split up in different groups during a class trip for one day, ONE DAY. I remember feeling the same way in high school but still … yuck. Some time apart will do you some good!!
Chris: I’m sorry, but when Lara Jean and Chris compare the more … intimate aspects of Lara Jean’s relationship to BRISKET? “We burn low and slow,” Lara Jean says. Chris’ response: “Well, the brisket is cooked, sister, so clear the table, slather some sauce on it and go to town.” Too much for me.
Amy: Overall, I did really like these movies. Even though they birthed the explosive fame of Noah “Too Dumb and Chaotic to Be a Himbo” Centineo, I’m willing to forgive them.
But of course the first movie was the best. It had the best soundtrack, the strongest chemistry between Condor and Centineo, it was when we were all innocent and unjaded because we didn’t know the truth about Peter’s intentions at the hot tub (yes, I’m still mad about that). At the time of its release, “To All the Boys” was a fun reinvigoration to the teen rom-com genre that made you feel like you were a teenager finding love for the first time too.
Chris: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is easily the best of the trio. While fairly predictable, the first movie still manages to feel fresh, funny and sensitive in a way that isn’t replicated by either sequel. But I was pleased “Always and Forever” redeemed the series overall, cutting down on all the dramatics from the second and going back to some rom-com roots — even if that meant Peter asking what a “meet-cute” was that far into a relationship with someone clearly obsessed with romance and rom-coms. Now that I’ve finished this binge, I think I’ll treat myself to some Subway.