Movie Review: To All the Boys: Always and Forever23rd February 2021
Few things are constant in life. The sun will shine, the twenty-four-hour cycle will push through, and Netflix will always release bad content. Hopefully the final nail in the coffin that is To All the Boys’ standing as a trilogy, To All the Boys: Always and Forever was an inevitability, rather than something to eagerly anticipate. When Oasis gets a name drop as an oddity of 90s culture, you’re either too old or too ingrained in culture to realise the music of old is now the obscure modernity. Terrifying stuff, but To All the Boys: Always and Forever appeals to that demographic. As off-putting and hellish that may be, it is a growing demographic, and content will now be suited to that, rather than tailor-made in the visions of a creative.
In certain cases, such as here, it is for the best that director Michael Fimognari follows the script and structure to the letter, rather than trying anything that would challenge his abilities as a creative or an audience’s fear of change. His work here leads on from the nothingness of the second film, but he has ground me down to begrudgingly accepting the throes of the genre, however weak and facile they may be. The glossy tones of romance blossoming are nothing new, but now set to the backdrop of New York, Fimognari has found my weak spot. He has weaselled his way in, burrowing into my adoration for the city that never sleeps. It is not enough of a change to make any real impact on the standing of the film, but at least he gives it an honest try.
But even his change of scenery is mired in the guilt and bloody hands of his previous, placid journey through the genre of romance. Brief it may be, this interlude is the most exciting part of the film, and then it is back to the sterilised streets of whichever godforsaken town these inhabitants wander through, the brief glimmers of meaning they have in their life are dragged down by the present worry that one day they will be separated from one another. Moments that clamour for the intended market are expected, but they are presented with such a neutered tone and empty style that it is not worth suffering through the lengthy, boring script to get through to one or two of the finer performances.
Glossy and numb, To All the Boys: Always and Forever is exactly what an audience would expect of this series thus far. Amicable, aimless and a film that’ll immediately click with fans of the series thus far. Really, this should be the strongest piece in the film so far, because the few brave souls that have made it to the end of this six-hour odyssey are either hardened fans of the genre and series, or have lost their television remote and are in a frenzy, begging for forgiveness now that the algorithm has caught them in the clutches of soppy romcom originals from the conveyer belt of hell. With a desire to clip the highs of High School Musical, there is a sense that To All the Boys: Always and Forever is trying to capitalise on the sudden burst of nostalgia felt for these projects, and it is quite hard to blame them for trying. An inevitability of the product-pushing times we live in, but the result is hard to feel anything for.