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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: A step in the right direction for romantic comedies

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“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a refreshing new addition to a genre in desperate need of new ideas.

The past decade of romantic comedies have, by and large, failed to be romantic or funny, weighed down by overused tropes and formulaic writing, while young adult (YA) literature has evolved far beyond the scope of wish fulfillment.

This might be the root of “All the Boys’” success; a YA novel adapted for the screen, with its author fighting to preserve all the groundbreaking choices that made her book a bestseller. According to Teen Vogue, Jenny Han turned down multiple offers from bigger studios because they wanted to whitewash the story’s protagonist, Lara Jean, and held out until she found one that would preserve her identity as an Asian American character.

Lana Condor’s (Lara Jean) casting is integral to this film. Not only does her performance carry the movie, but she’s also close in age to the character she’s playing, so all the talk of first kisses and relationships feels authentic — and has just the right amount of awkward to be charming.

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is more concerned with realism than escapism, but the story still snags on a couple of one-dimensional characters and low-stake climaxes.

Lara Jean’s best friend is only present in the story when convenient, and the two of them seem to have very little in common beyond hating a popular girl. Her relationship with her sisters seems flat, despite the plots’ emphasis on their closeness.

One of Lara Jean’s past loves, Lucas, turns out to be gay and despite the two of them not being close, she still confides in him about her current relationship drama, and he acts like a cardboard cutout gay best friend.

The second act miscommunication-betrayal that is so emblematic of romcoms isn’t big enough to merit a climax. The love interest doesn’t explain himself soon enough and the betrayal isn’t convincing enough for Lara Jean to believe it in the first place.

The humor is sweet, the characters are realistic, and there’s enough tension throughout to have the ending payoff, even if the climax plateaus.  

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: A step in the right direction for romantic comedies