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 I've Loved Before is based on the popular same-named YA novel by Jenny Han. It tells the story of Lara Jean (Lana Condor), a Korean American teen whose secret letters to her five crushes are sent out by her well-meaning little sister. While Lara Jean is mortified and frightened, the event ultimately helps the mostly timid, lonely girl realize her worth, deal with lingering grief over her mother's death, and discover that a real romance is better than a fantasy one. Though there's no nudity and no sexual activity beyond kissing/embracing, teen sexuality is a frequent subject of conversation. Characters talk about having/not having sex, safe sex, virginity, menstruation, condoms, etc. A dad drinks wine, and underage kids at a party appear to be drinking alcohol. Occasional swearing includes "slut," "ass," "d--k," "bulls--t," and "screw you." Despite the sexual references and swearing, there's an innocence about the film that keeps it wholesome and relatable for most teens.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) lives with her dad (John Corbett), a gynecologist, and her two sisters in TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE. The family is close and loving, still mourning their beloved mom's death some years earlier. Lara Jean has few friends and feels invisible in her Portland, Oregon, high school. Lonely, she reads romance novels, fantasizes about boys, and has gone so far as to write secret letters to the five boys she's "loved" over the years. She keeps those letters well hidden in a special box in her closet. Lara Jean's world crashes when the letters get mailed and the secret crushes receive them! To her horror, one of those letters was addressed to Josh (Israel Broussard), the boy who is now her big sister's boyfriend. Salvation comes in the person of Peter (Noah Centineo), her middle school crush, who now suggests that they fake a romantic relationship. That would get her off the hook with Josh and her sister, and at the same time help him get his girlfriend back by making her jealous. But conducting a "fake relationship" isn't as easy as it sounds.
Is it any good?
Fans of teen romance will find much to like here, including an engaging performance by Lana Condor as Lara Jean and messages about self-confidence, honesty, and family unity. Especially significant is the fact that an Asian American character is at the center of a film, especially one intended for young people. That's a rare occurrence. On the negative side, there's a fair amount of predictability in To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and the story covers lots of familiar ground and characters -- popularity, romantic rivalries, mean girls, "jocks." Plus, the film resolves complex situations too easily. However, as lighthearted entertainment and a look at a too-little-seen culture, it's a welcome addition to Netflix's blossoming roster of teen romcoms.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Lara Jean changed over the course of To All the Boys I've Loved Before. What did she learn about herself? About her relationship with others? Her place in the world? How do movies like this one help kids with their own self-discovery? What events in your life helped determine who you are?
To Lara Jean's dismay, a video showing her kissing Peter in a hot tub circulates online and is misinterpreted. What are some of the ways kids can protect themselves from cyberbullying?
To All the Boys I've Loved Before was adapted from a popular book. If you have read the book, did the movie meet your expectations? If not, why? What, if anything, did you miss? If you haven't read the book, did this movie motivate you to do so?
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