**Article contains spoilers for the movie “To All the Boys: Always and Forever”**
Fasten your seatbelts, folks. Noah Centineo is back.
The 24-year-old actor has become Netflix’s go-to leading man, starring in five of their most recent original teen romcoms. Known for introspective and unrelated tweets like, "Just because we’ve learned to count to 4 does not mean we can understand infinity, " Centineo has triggered cringes across the globe from many of his older fans. An actor by day and philosopher by night, Centineo’s social media persona is just as overly romantic as his characters, establishing a young female fanbase that propelled him into his career as a never-ending high school prom date.
His most recent film, “To All the Boys: Always and Forever," was the third and final movie installment following two sappy teenagers through their tumultuous relationship, constantly reaffirming each other’s love language of words of affirmation.
Beginning in 2018, the three-film series follows imaginative teenager Lara Jean Covey on her journey through high school romance. Based on the popular book series by Jenny Han, the story was picked up by Netflix to fulfill their beloved category of original teen romcoms.
In the first movie, “To All the Boys I Loved Before,” Lara Jean discovers that five of her unsent love letters from the past had been mailed to their intended recipients by her mischievous little sister. This sends the frantic high schooler on a chaotic adventure to intercept the letters before they are read, which of course leads to a budding romance her former crush and varsity lacrosse stud, Peter Kavinsky. Coming from complete opposite lifestyles and social circles, the two fall madly in love and fearlessly conquer countless obstacles through the next movie, “To All the Boys 2: P.S. I Still Love You."
The first two films set the scene for the third, establishing the unbreakable bond between Lara Jean and Peter with no lack of forehead kisses and pet names. However, the newest story features a more serious setback — college. Although the franchise’s main fanbase of middle school girls has no understanding of the topic, Han details the duo's college decision process. While they both plan to attend Stanford University together, Lara Jean’s rejection throws a devastating wrench in the mix.
I would like to thank the writers for this small dose of reality, unlike the many other Netflix teen movies that depict countless characters at Ivy League schools after missing an alarming amount of classes for spontaneous adventures.
I also enjoyed the surprising creative elements featured through the film, as the production team was not afraid to incorporate animated, graphic design elements to illustrate Lara Jean's wild imagination. The consistent light pink, cartoony aesthetic choices help bring her character to life, showing her personality as a bubbly and innocent creative writer.
After realizing that the couple will be forced to attend different schools, tensions are high and communication is low. In a predictable ‘I choose myself’ moment, Lara Jean decides to follow her dreams and attend NYU, over 3,000 miles away from Peter.
As someone currently in a long-distance relationship, it’s almost humorous to watch Lara Jean’s unbothered attitude as she optimistically assumes their relationship will continue to thrive no matter the distance. Speaking from personal experience, I am not sure this fictional couple will be able to handle the communication setbacks, time differences and overall hardships that long-distance relationships entail. No matter my opinion on their fake future, Lana Condor and Noah Centineo do provide an adorable, family-friendly depiction of high school romance and its bliss.
Overall, “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” is the newest middle school sleepover staple, providing a balanced amount of sisterly love and snappy one-liners. Although Centineo’s performance may incite a cringe or five, this film was one Netflix original romcom that I did not hate.