A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that To All the Boys: Always and Forever -- the third entry in the popular teen romance franchise -- sees main character Lara Jean (Lana Condor) facing grown-up issues like going away to college and losing her virginity. She and her boyfriend, Peter (Noah Centineo), are also both struggling with their parents' life transitions. Lara Jean's widowed dad is getting remarried, and Peter's absentee father wants to be back in his life. Girls talk about boys, and teens make references to "Frenching," "jumping bones," being "hot," "boudoir shoots," and "never having to say goodnight" once they're in college. A character suggests to Lara Jean that prom night would be a romantic time to lose her virginity. It doesn't happen that night, but it does another: Lara Jean and Peter make out in her bedroom and then wake up under the covers, apparently naked. High school seniors are focused on getting into good colleges or taking a meaningful gap year; money doesn't seem to be an issue for any of them. Teens evade chaperones and attend a college party in New York where students appear to drink alcohol. Language includes "s--t," "crap," "oh my God," and more. The movie offers positive messages about growth within relationships and forgiving and supporting the people you love.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo) are still going strong as a couple in TO ALL THE BOYS: ALWAYS AND FOREVER. They're seniors in high school now and applying to colleges. Their plan is to go together to Stanford, where Peter has made the lacrosse team, but a senior trip to New York City opens Lara Jean's eyes to the possibility of studying at NYU instead. The pair will need to decide if their relationship is strong enough to withstand such a distance. Will Lara Jean follow her dreams, her boyfriend, or both? Will the two break up or finally consummate their relationship? Meanwhile, they're both also grappling with family changes: Lara Jean's dad is getting remarried, and Peter's dad wants to be back in his son's life.
Is it any good?
This latest entry in the teen romance franchise is likely to please fans. To All the Boys: Always and Forever continues with the same light tone, charming characters, and pleasant settings. The film takes on some worthy and timely topics for teens on the precipice of adulthood, and there are positive lessons about family, relationships, and individual growth. A couple of cutesy techniques are fun, like a video imagining of Lara Jean's dreams for the future getting rewound when things don't work out as planned, or the film's hand-drawn transitions. Same for certain lines and scenes, like lessons Peter says he's learned from watching romcoms, his reenactment of the classic Say Anything scene with a mini Bluetooth speaker replacing John Cusack's '80s boom box, or the little sister rolling her eyes at people actually still leaving messages.
As the teens grapple with grown-up issues like applying to college, having sex, and losing or gaining parental figures, they exhibit an emotional fortitude that's enviable even for those well over 17. When they're being a little naughty, like evading chaperones on a senior trip or sneaking into a childhood bedroom to make out, they still come across as eminently trustworthy and upstanding. When Peter gets down on one knee to propose going to prom together, he looks like a grown man proposing marriage. The pair are as settled in their snuggling as an old married couple. They argue, break up, make up, and more, but for a film about teens facing grown-up decisions, there's a certain amount of real-to-life angst and passion missing here. Whether that feels refreshing or superficial may depend on who's watching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how To All the Boys: Always and Forever differs from or follows on the previous two films in the franchise. Do the characters' stories make sense based on the past films? Is their future what you expected?
Have you heard of the colleges that the seniors in the film have applied to? Do you have any connection to these schools? College can be expensive. Why do you suppose that isn't discussed in this film?
At first, Peter is upset with Lara Jean for choosing the college she does. Why does he come around? Did you think his initial reaction was justified?
What role do Lara Jean's and Peter's fathers play in the movie?
- On DVD or streaming: February 12, 2021
- Cast: Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish
- Director: Michael Fimognari
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- MPAA explanation: TV-14: language.
- Last updated: February 23, 2021
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