With a horrifically long queue already in place, I hate when Netflix tries to shove their shows at me. I’m also a little embarrassed by the suggestions. It’s one thing to watch the crap I watch, but it’s another thing to have the algorithm so ruthlessly regurgitate my viewing patterns back at me. But this week, they nailed it with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Based on the 2014 YA novel by Janny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is your basic PG-rated High School rom com, or essentially a non-Disney Disney Channel Original Movie. And that is fine because, I love a good DCOM off-brand or not. We can blame this on my exceptional parenting skills, but really it was more of a perk than a burden for me to watch these gems over and over with my kids. They are the modern ABC Afterschool Specials without too heavy-handed a message. They are like Hallmark movies with younger, better looking actors. Don’t judge me!
If you can open your mind and accept To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before for what it is, it’s a winner. Fellow moms…if the previous Netflix teen offerings have made you skittish (such as the brutal reality check of 13 Reasons Why), this is exactly the kind of movie you could watch together with your pre-teen comfortably. And it’s the kind of movie you wouldn’t be shamed for watching alone, with a bottle of wine (I recommend a mid-priced Trader Joe’s Prosecco paired with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia). Chaste and adorable as it is, the acting is good and the fake boyfriend trope works out exceptionally well because the Twitter hype is true about Peter Kavinsky being the best fake boyfriend ever.
The story follows the adorable Lara Jean Covey (played by Lana Condor — Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse for those of you needing a nerd reference) who devours romance novels, but shuns IRL relationships. Insert all the normal YA plot points here — currently popular ex-middle-school best friend, quirky hat-wearing current bestie, shade-throwing little sister, college-bound older sister, and then throw in the twist where five secret love letters she’s written for shits and giggles to her crushes over the years end up being mailed to them. When you get past that she’s an idiot for putting these letters into addressed envelopes in the first place, it makes for a fun premise when one of the recipients ends up being her sister’s very recent ex-boyfriend. And because all great teen rom-coms are based on farce, this highly improbable situation is complicated by another love letter recipient trying to lessen the drama by pretending to be Lara Jean’s boyfriend.
Aside from the fact that we need to suspend disbelief here that any 16 year old boy, let alone several of them, are going to try to confront the girl who sent them a love letter face to face, I stand by my favorable review. It’s fast moving with some touching moments and a solid portrayal of high school girl anxiety, but my take away, was definitely that John Corbett has found his niche in playing a teen movie dad.
Don’t get me wrong, I have been an ardent admirer of John Corbett’s since Northern Exposure and he never disappoints (even his Walgreen’s voice overs sizzle), but somewhere post-Aidan my giddiness for him waned. His roles all had too much sensitivity in a hippie granola way for my personal taste. However, it was with Ramona & Beezus that I started coming back around. And seriously, if I could notice any other guy in that movie next to Josh Duhamel then there is obviously something there.
Though I might need to clarify that this wasn’t the first time John Corbett played a dad. In United States of Tara, his character Max had kids. And that was a great role for him, but he had too much baggage with his wife and all of her personalities that it was hard to enjoy him for him. But, it’s different in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, because as a tertiary character, I didn’t need to know his backstory. All I needed to know is that he’s a good dad who knows his way around the kitchen and a vagina (because he’s a gynecologist). Also as a widow, he’s a little vulnerable, but not a hot mess. His shit is together for the children. That’s so hot. If it were up to me, this is the only role he’d play from now on.
Other on-screen dads in his league:
I’m open to suggestions on additions to the list, so hit me up with your favorite movie or TV hot dad or your favorite teen rom com.