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This really should have been a Netflix series instead. Movie adaptations of YA books often don't do the source material justice. P.S. I Still Love You's charm lies in its loveable slice-of-life feel. If they made this story into 6 to 8 (hour) long episodes, the story could've reached it's fullest potential. As a movie, P.S.ISLY is little more than an empty shell that reaches the milestones of the book, but without any momentum or meaning.
Things I liked:
***The shots of food - This movie took the time to show us all of the delicious things LJ ate. In the book, LJ describes a lot of delicious food. That's a big part of her personality.
***The set design - The Valentine's Day scene at school was nicely done. It had a Mean Girls 'candy cane scene' vibe to it. Other sets I liked were: LJ's messy, but whimsically decorated bedroom, the school, the Aquarium, and the retirement home. Actually the retirement home looked way better then I could've ever imagined. I like how this movie doesn't suggest elderly people have to be miserable just because they'rer in a retirement home.
***Stormy - Holland Taylor was by far the best actor in the movie. She played Stormy perfectly and with the right amount of spunk.
***Gen being a more likeable, vulnerable person instead of a typical female villain. Idk, I guess its the way the actress plays her. Movie Gen doesn't seem all that irritating for some reason.
***The cast - they're a cute bunch of people, and they tried their best. I liked Noah more in this one even though he didn't really have much to do. The scene where Peter gets sprung for trying to pass off an Edgar Allan Poe poem as his own was cute and decently acted. LJ is adorable, I love all of her fashion choices (the baby doll lashes were a bit too glam for everyday wear though... she wears them to bed too?)
***The use of Black Pink's 'Kill this Love'.
***The Jenny Han cameo.
***Jordan Fisher and Ross Butler - having John volunteer with LJ was a great way to give him more screen time which allowed his character time to develop. Ross was kind of inserted into the freind group but I wasn't mad because I liked seeing an asian (biracial?) male get screen time.
****I liked all of the flashbacks with LJ and John.
***An attempt was made in the first half of the movie. Although there was a lot of cringe, the pacing was good, the humor wasn't bad, the movie found some fun ways to adapt some moments from the book.
Things I didn't like:
*** The second half of the movie -- it was flat and lifeless, formulaic and poorly written, and for no reason at all they make LJ fabricate the driest, crustiest drama just to make the movie be about something. In the book, LJ causes drama but at least it feels like she has reasons behind her actions.
Throughout the movie, she was looking for an excuse to dump Peter when it's clear to all of us that he was being the sweetest boyfreind possible. She hated him being friends with a pretty girl while LJ continued to leave herself open to the affections of John Ambrose. These plot points are fine, and I get that she is flawed, but LJ's hypocrisy never gets challenged in a satisfying way.
She gives us a throwaway line about understanding that Peter and Gen have a connection, but it feels like an empty realization. In the book, LJ being drawn to John A made more sense because Peter was ignorant about how his exclusive emotional relationship with Gen was kind of innappropriate. There was little of that angst in the movie.
***The break up scene --It felt rushed and typical. All of a sudden, LJ decides to support her boyfriend and the one time he kind of stuffs up she throws a fit. Then Peter randomly admits that he was originally waiting in the hot tub for Gen?? This was a cheap way of assassinating Peter's character to justify LJ breaking up with him. This is told to us in a throwaway line, but there is no foreshadowing and Peter has been a loving and well-meaning boyfreind up to this point so it just feels cheap. If they wanted to make Peter be a bit sleazy then they should have had the balls to foreshadowed it. Also, that montage where LJ had broken up with Peter was stupid. LJ had the audacity to mope around in her self-instigated drama, so it was hard to feel sorry for her.
***We needed more Chris, more Kitty, more Gen and Peter scenes.
***Lara Jean's character arc - It was so flat. She may have cried her crocodile tears, but it doesn't feel like she learned anything. The movie made me not root for her. I actually found movie Gen to be more likeable than LJ at some points (when the two of them meet up in the treehouse, for example). LJ just causes unneccessary drama, hurts herself because of her own crappy decisions and then people forgive her. Isn't this the same character arc she went through in the first movie? Also book LJ may have been childish and flakey but she was still endearing because those traits are the shadow side of her dreamy, romantic personality. Even so, she always meant well. Despite her quirky clothing and love for baking, movie LJ seemed kinda cold, petty and dramatic and its never really clear why she has to cause drama.
****Scenes I deeply wish were in the movie: (WARNING:this section contains spoilery scenes from the book. I included them to demonstrate the amazingness we miss out on in the movie)
***The hot tub video spreading around the school - I know this was in the first movie, but I loved the scene where the video was shown on the projector during school assembly:
"Me So Horny" blasts out of the speakers and my video, mine and Peter's, flashes on the projector screen. Someone has taken the video from Anonyb*tch's Instagram and put their own soundtrack to it. They've edited it too, so I bop up and down on Peter's lap at triple speed to the beat. (..) Everything happens at once. People are shrieking and laughing and pointing and going "Oooh!" Mr Vasquez is jumping up to unplug the projector, and then Peter's running onstage, grabbing the microphone (..) "Whoever did that is a piece of garbage. And not that it's anybody's f*cking business, but Lara Jean and I did not have sex in the hot tub." (..) "All we did was kiss, so f*ck off!" Mr Vasquez, the junior class advisor, is trying to grab the mic back from Peter, but Peter manages to maintain control of it. He holds the mic up high and yells out, "I'm gonna find whoever did this and kick their ass!" (..) People are cheering and laughing. Peter's being frog-marched off the stage, and he frantically looks out into the audience. He's looking for me."
***That hilarious Assassin tag game played by group of freinds at the time-capsule party. This tag game created so much tension and fun in the book that was sorely needed in the film.
" Oh, how I loved that game! It was like tag: Everybody picked a name out of a hat, and you had to tag the person out. Once you got your person, you had to take out whoever they had. It involved a lot of sneaking around and hiding. A game could last for (..) "Lara Jean just doesn't have the killer instinct," Genevieve says, looking at her nails. I say, "We can't all be black widows." "True," she says, and my teeth clench."
"I see Genevieve and Peter walking up (to the retirement home) , her arm linked in his, and it's like we're in a time machine and the past year never happened. We never happened. [...] They're coming closer. Now they are about ten feet away, and I am frozen to this spot. Is there no way out of this? Out of this humiliation, and out of losing yet again? [...] What are my options here? If I turn and run back into the nursing home, she'll just wait in the parking lot for me all night. Just like that, I am a rabbit under her paw again. Just like that, she wins. [...] "
***Continuing from that last scene, John comes to LJ's rescue in my absolute favourite scene in the book:
***Scenes that gave more depth to Peter's personality, showed his strengths and flaws and the fact that he kind of was in an unhealthy relationship with Gen. Gen's secret about her family issues shown instead of being revealed in a throwaway comment.
***More interactions with Gen and LJ
***Give Stormy more to do... I don't see why she couldn't have been John Ambrose's grandma in the movie.
***The significance of the locket and how Peter worked to afford it. It was brushed over in the movie.
***More family scenes. Kitty gets a few scenes, but many of her good scenes were cut.
***The Josh moving on with someone else scene.
Things they could have improved on fron the book but didn't:
***Josh getting some sort of redemption. Lara Jean used to be really close to Josh, but after the whole crush debacle she just dumps his friendship.
***Improve on the annoying parts of LJ's personality in the book.
***More focus on resolving the girl-on girl hate between LJ and Gen.
***More romantic moments between LJ and Peter and crush moments between LJ and John A.
***More female freindship moments between LJ and Chris. Have them talk about their homework or other non-boy drama -related stuff.
***Give Lucas more of a role than just being a gay best freind trope.
***Put less emphasis on LJ experiencing her 'first times'. This is just a personal gripe, but never really liked how its insinuated that Gen is very experienced while LJ is this virginal and vanilla person, and how that's supposed to be significant.
Final thoughts: At least this movie made me realize that actually a lot of books work so much better as a netflix series.
I just wanted to watch something cozy and autumnal, and honestly, this was more loveable than I thought it would be. The movie used one of my favorite tropes: a smart and bubbly woman brightens the lives of others. The main character was warm and charismatic and her presence made the movie enjoyable and I'd like to see her in other things because she's great.