Why 'To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before' is Not Worth the Hype

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” has taken Netflix by storm this past month. It’s the story of a teenage girl who writes letters to the boys she’s crushing on, which get released by her younger sister. She eventually finds her happily ever after with a dreamy boy from school. That’s right: Peter Kavinsky.

This fictional name is one that almost every girl has heard by now. Before I elaborate, I won’t deny his good looks and charming personality are hard to resist. I definitely see what Lara Jean, the main character, sees in him. But after hearing all of the hype for this film, I thought I would have been more impressed. Generally, I prefer movies that make me think but are still entertaining. This movie, however, just doesn’t do it for me for a variety of reasons.

The storyline

Let’s start with the plot itself. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the premise, Lara Jean’s love letters get sent out. Peter Kavinsky is a high school hottie who plays lacrosse and is known by everyone in school. He’s also one of the letter receivers. After talking to Lara Jean, they decide to have a “fake” relationship to convince everyone that they’re dating. They devise a list of rules for this so-called relationship, including that she has to go on a school ski trip with him. Oh, and did I mention they devised this plan just to make Lara Jean’s big time crush NOT think that she’s in love with him? The plot thickens — this crush of hers is her older sister’s ex-boyfriend. In the end (spoiler alert), Lara Jean and Peter actually end up together for real. Surprising, right? Sadly, that’s exactly why this whole plot bothers me. Along with being extremely cheesy, it’s the most predictable movie I can think of.

The characters

Every movie has somewhat predictable characters. There’s a good guy and a bad guy, but in more in-depth movies, these characters are much more complex. In this movie, the most basic characters are present but with very little complexity. There’s Lara Jean, the girl next door. Peter Kavinsky is the high school jock who falls for the underdog. Then there’s Jen, Peter’s popular cheerleader ex-girlfriend who is out to sabotage his new relationship. Aside from being entertaining, most of the characters have no depth. Lara Jean is the only exception, in my opinion. She’s growing up and trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. She has gone through tragedy in her life with the passing of her mother, so she’s much more mature than her classmates.

The dramatization

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a dramatic title in itself. Lara Jean is 16 years old; How many boys could she have really “loved” at this point? I understand having little crushes as a tween, but saying she loved them seems to be a lot.

The main drama that really gets me in this movie comes from the little things. Peter asks Lara Jean on a public high school ski trip to an extravagant resort. Everyone brings their girlfriends. Maybe I went to the wrong kind of high school, but I just can’t imagine this ever happening.

Peter’s ex-girlfriend is made up to be a mean girl, which all high schools have. However, they make her seem so dramatic that it’s almost amusing. For instance, she steals Lara Jean’s scrunchie that Peter has on his wrist. Why would Peter be holding onto Lara Jean’s hair tie rather than Lara Jean holding onto her own hair tie? I don’t know. Jen makes it a point to take the scrunchie out of her hair as she’s talking to Lara Jean, which would take some twisted planning.

The way that they play out their fake relationship in general is dramatic. They try to do all the things that a normal high school couple would do, but it turns out to be pretty inaccurate. As a teenager watching this kind of movie, I want to be able to witness what love actually is. I don’t want to see a cheesy fake couple posting selfies with the caption “bae.”

During the ski trip, when they realize their love isn’t fake, Peter is coincidentally waiting for Lara Jean in the hot tub downstairs, where there happens to be no one else. She suddenly decides that he MUST be waiting for her down there. Unless there’s some kind of secret telepathy that the viewers don’t know about, I’m not really sure how that would occur.

Despite my sub-par review, I didn’t necessarily hate this movie. I think for entertainment purposes, it was okay. However, the movie immediately caught a lot of hype and seemed to have some kind of impactful message. When I watched it, I was disappointed. I went in with high expectations, which weren’t fulfilled.

Tackling the topic of love is a very hard thing to do in any kind of media. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” missed their mark on this one. The main characters were involved in a huge lie, which turned into love, apparently. I believe this gave off an odd depiction of love, especially for those who haven’t experienced it yet. It’s as if this movie showed that high school lovers will just fall into place, no matter what.

As college students, we know that these types of movies are dramatized and created purely for  entertainment. They make you laugh. They make you cry. They make you smile. That’s not the problem — it’s a great thing. It’s the hype that baffles me the most.

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” may be a random Netflix hit that fades away. In a few months, it may not matter anymore. Either way, it might be entertaining, but it should be taken lightly. Maybe one day we’ll all write letters to ex-lovers and send them out, but it’s quite unlikely. Peter Kavinsky may be charming, but he (and the movie) shouldn’t be the only thing on our minds.