Entertaining but cliché

Shae Daugherty

"If you’re in search of a romance, this might not quite be it; the two lead characters represent the movie’s weakest point."

Austin Keefer, Staff Writer

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It isn’t a stretch to say that it’s far easier to watch a high school movie today than it was in years past.

This is because Hollywood has finally thrown out shopworn stereotypes and silly, over-the top, cartoonish characters in favor of natural dialogue and characters who look, act, and talk like normal people, and this movie is no exception. The key to appealing teen movies to a teen audience is making the story and characters relatable to them, and in that category, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” succeeds.

The best way to rate this film is to say that it’s far better than anything the Disney Channel could whip up. It’s not a great film (few, if any, romantic comedies are), but it is perfectly passable.

The ultimate strength of the movie is its subversion of stereotypes and cliches that are often present in teen films and rom coms alike.

Take, for example, the father character, played by John Corbett. He does some of the things you’d expect the father character to do in this kind of movie; he takes pictures of his kids on the first day of school, lays ground rules for his daughter’s boyfriend, and draws out his good-bye to his eldest daughter when she’s at the airport, headed for college.

But while these scenarios had the potential to be over-the-top and cringeworthy, they weren’t. The picture takes a few seconds and it’s nothing embarrassing, the good-bye at the airport is nothing beyond a long hug, and the rules he gives the boyfriend are brutally simple (“No drinking, no drugs, no hands”) and are delivered in a friendly, casual tone.

The subversions don’t end there. The normally annoying younger sibling is played very clever and very funny, the “weird” best friend isn’t so much weird as she is eccentric, and the bully character isn’t given a clique of sidekicks to follow her around everywhere and chortle when she insults the protagonist.

The point is, the audience should have no problem believing these characters could exist in real life, an achievement that does not extend to such movies as High School Musical or Mean Girls.

If you’re in search of a comedy, this might be good for you. There are moments throughout to chuckle at, and the aforementioned younger sister and the best friend manage to produce some laugh-out-loud lines. If you’re in search of a romance, this might not quite be it; the two lead characters represent the movie’s weakest point. They aren’t terrible, but sometimes their acting is a little hit and miss, which makes it hard to care about what happens to their relationship in the end.

So for people who aren’t fans of rom coms, this movie will likely be a pleasant surprise. It’s not the best and it’s not the worst, but still far better than most of the teen comedy-dramas they used to make.

My Rating: B

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