Friday, February 12, 2021

To All the Boys: Always and Forever (2021)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: To All the Boys: Always and Forever (2021)
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Length: 109 minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: Ace Entertainment, All The Boys Productions, Netflix
Director: Michael Fimognari
Writer: Katie Lovejoy, Jenny Han
Actors: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart, Ross Butler, Madeleine Arthur, Emilija Baranac, Trezzo Mahoro, Sarayu Blue, John Corbett, Henry Thomas
Blurb from IMDb: Continuing the romantic life of the teenage girl and facing her good and hard times with her friends and family.

Selina’s Point of View:
I have a ton to say about this movie. Most of it on the content of the story.
First of all, and I think most importantly, I think the main trope needs to die.
Back in the 80s when all you had was a wired phone to reach people with, it worked. Anyone in high school that was dating someone that would be moving to a different time zone was going to have significant trouble keeping up enough communication to continue dating them. Even if they had an answering machine, they were always going to have some spans of time where they just wouldn’t be able to talk at all. That kind of situation is what birthed this trope. A long-distance relationship meant the death of it.
That was then. Our options for communication, even over significantly long distances, are MUCH different now. If nothing else, the pandemic has proven that. Hell, I live in NY and I have best friends that live in Louisiana and Kansas. In fact, I know a couple who were high school sweethearts, went to colleges on opposite coasts, and just got married. Many other people I know have seen it happen a ton, too. It’s not as rare as these flicks make it seem.
Long-distance is not a death sentence for a relationship anymore. It just isn’t. And when films continuously tell teens that it is, it can scare them into making bad choices for their own educational future. It’s not fair to them, and it no longer makes sense from a plot-perspective.
100%, this trope needs to die. Now. In our current age, with our current technology, it’s ridiculous and only exists out of habit. Bad habit.
What’s next? Right.
I hate the way these kinds of films portray the re-emergence of a parent into an abandoned child’s life.
It’s always the same thing. The parent comes back because it’s finally convenient for them to be a part of the teen’s life, and the teen is – understandably – pissed. Throughout the flick, someone always convinces them that they are morally obligated to give that parent a chance to do right by them.
I cannot tell you how much I despise this.
If you have a child, you are a parent. You don’t get a break from being a parent. If you leave – you’re still a parent, just a bad one (in most situations). I had this view point when I was young and, now that I have a daughter, it’s even more concrete in my mind.

(Yes, there are parents who aren’t able to be with their kid because the person who has custody of the child doesn’t allow it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’ve seen that situation, too, and it’s very different.)
Every time I see this abandonment story sneak into a teen film, it’s the same thing. And it’s bullshit.
A child has the right to be angry. It’s ok for them to not forgive the one who left.
Furthermore, comparing the parent that left by choice to a parent who died is essentially like gaslighting a kid into being ok. Not only does that not work, but it can cause them to resent themselves for not being able to do the forgiving that people expect of them. I know from experience.
Anger is a legitimate emotion when someone has been abandoned. Stop telling kids that it’s not. Stop trying to make it the norm to not feel that anger. Let kids feel it, so they can work through it. You can’t fix it if you’re suppressing it. For fucks sake.
That’s another harmful trope that needs to die.
I don’t normally do such a deep dive into tropes, but those two both really bother me. It did affect my enjoyment of the film. At least a bit.
After pausing a few times, I managed to push my concerns about the plot out of my head enough to really watch.
Acting-wise, everything was spot on. There’s a beautiful chemistry between all the actors that shows well on screen. Not just between Lara Jean and Peter, but with their friends and family. It makes everything feel a bit more natural.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever was effective. Everything it wanted me to feel, I felt. Even when I was meant to feel distance between characters, it worked. I felt every moment of that distance – that’s not an easy thing to accomplish when there is such a palpable chemistry involved.
I was hoping that this sequel would take a riskier route, and I’m disappointed it didn’t. It took the same path that most other films would have. It had the chance to redefine the genre, and took the road most travelled.

That said, it was still good. Despite my issues with the tropes they used, I still enjoyed the film. I just wish they'd gone further.

Cat’s Point of View:
Valentine’s Day is almost upon us. This year it’s been harder to feel that romantic buzz with my husband and I both sick. However, my restlessness and home-bound state did give me the perfect opportunity to catch up on the To All the Boys trilogy.
To be honest, I was slightly dreading watching To All the Boys: Always and Forever because of the situational timing. I have to say, though, that once I got into the movies, the rest of that fell away and I sank back into the story as if there hadn’t been a time lapse since 2019. The flow felt natural and the three films connect together as a really well-rounded trilogy.
I think Selina summed up the experience for To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020) well in her review; so, while I watched both, I’m going to do my best to focus on the third movie.
One thing I really appreciated is that while the audience is presented with this cute fairytale-like story, it also offered a realistic look at young love.

The films don’t shy away from the bumps in the road, the doubts, or the rollercoaster of highs and lows that comes with the territory. At the same time, it’s not cranked up to the level of melodrama that many productions lean on like a crutch.
I liked the fact that there’s a layered story with each of the family members experiencing their own arc woven into and around the main character’s tale. You get a glimpse at different perspectives without feeling like it’s too much. It’s maddening when a film gets lost and tangled in its own side quests rather than dialing in to the core plot.
There’s some real depth here to go with the adorable. There were even a few parts I got misty-eyed. I couldn’t help it. I just resonated deeply with multiple aspects here.
In the end, I’m glad that I experienced this trilogy. If you haven’t watched the first two already, it’s possible to binge all three without making a giant time commitment.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 70%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 83%
Metascore – 63/100
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.6/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
Movie Trailer:

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