Movie Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

I’m not usually a fan of the modern chick flick/romcom.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them, they just don’t really do anything for me.  I have an equal apathy towards movies about sports or music.  To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, though?  Sign me up for a rewatch.

The movie follows Lara Jean, a high school student who sort of has a crush on her sister’s boyfriend, and over time has had crushes on four other lads.  To each of these lads she has written a love letter and keeps said letters in a pretty box in her wardrobe where no one will ever see them.

The story begins with Lara Jean’s older sister (the one with the boyfriend) going off to university in Scotland and leaving said boyfriend (Josh) back in the US with a broken heart.  Lara Jean is naturally filled with conflict and angst, until her helpful younger sister finds those letters and mails each and every one of them off to their intended recipients.  Two of them (Josh and a boy called Peter) go to Lara Jean’s school.  Peter has, very fortuitously, just broken up with his girlfriend Gwen, Lara Jean’s nemesis.

After some brief and enteraining hijinks, Lara Jean and Peter enter into a contract; they will fake date.  Peter will do it to fill his ex’s heart with jealousy and make her come back to him; Lara will do it to convince Josh and everyone else that she is not in love with him, because the awkwardness of being in love with your sister’s very recent ex is pretty extreme.

You can see where this is going, of course.  Slowly, adorably, and with many complications, Lara Jean and Peter realise that their fake relationship is becoming the real thing.  It becomes a big old will they/won’t they thing.  It’s really sweet.

I don’t know what it is about this movie that makes me so happy.  It could be that we have not one but three Asian American women, one of whom is the lead, and none of whom are token or stereotypical.  Maybe it’s that the people who spread rumours about Lara Jean are shot down by Peter, who could have bolstered his reputation as a stud by letting them spread.  Maybe it’s the adorable dynamic in Lara Jean’s family, the bonding over absent family members between Lara Jean and Peter, or even just the really sweet, cathartic ending that didn’t feel cliched even though you could see it coming a mile off.  The characters are well-rounded and well-developed.  Lara Jean’s little sister is hilarious and adorable.  Lara Jean’s relationship with her very feminist and slightly wacky best friend is super fun to watch.  I was never bored.

I really enjoyed the way the story was told, too.  Sometimes we get flashbacks to little Lara Jean and her historic crushes (really cute!).  Sometimes we see her talking to imaginary versions of Peter and Josh.  Sometimes she narrates the story, and at other times is totally oblivious to things happening around her.  Keeping it switched up like that helps keep you engaged, but also keep it firmly in the cutesy chick-flick arena.  It also helps build your sympathy and affinity for Lara Jean as the protagonist.  She’s already likeable, but this puts you in her head.

If you want your teenager to have a healthy view of how relationships should be and understand the importance of communication, this is a great movie for them to see.  If you want to watch something cute and satisfying and just plain nice, this is a great movie for you to see.

Have you seen it?  What did you think?  What other Netflix originals have you tried of late?  Let me know in the comments.

Nailed It: The Netflix Show for Bad Bakers

Do you love pinterest fails, french accents and cooking competitions?  Then Nailed It is probably for you.

Hosted by Nicole Byer, with chef Jacques Torres as head judge and a random guest judge (usually also a culinary expert but sometimes not), the show follows the same format each week.  Three enthusiastic but amateur American folks stroll onto the show and are asked to recreate a variety of professionally-made cakes.  There are two rounds.  The first one, “Baker’s Choice,” requires the contestants to choose one of three cakes, biscuits or other confection, to recreate.  We’ve seen emoji biscuits, lip-shaped cake pops and people-face cookies, and even a football grandstand made up of guacamole and various dippy bits.  Whoever wins Baker’s Choice gets a sparkly gold hat and some sort of fun kitchen thing, like a cake decorating kit, knife block or stand mixer.

Round two, “Nail It or Fail It,” really brings out the big guns.  All three contestants have to recreate the same cake, which is usually massively complex and heavily decorated.

Image result for nailed it netflix

There’s been the above shark chomping down a diver, Rapunzel in her tower, a unicorn, a volcano, a hovering teapot pouring tea down into a cup, and even Donald Trump (highly recommend watching that episode if you ever wanted to know what Trump might look like if he was a zombie cake).  Some bakers do surprisingly well (although rarely well enough for it to not be funny), but most create horrifying nightmares.  The cakes are all tested on taste as well as appearance, and the winner of this round gets $10,000 and the allegedly soon-to-be-collectable Nailed It trophy.  Then everyone jumps in for a group selfie and we move on to binge-watch the next episode.

Delightfully, the show is not actually particularly judgey.  The panel isn’t scared to have a giggle at some of the disasters plated up for them (my favourite was one that looked quite good but had all the judges spitting it out because the contestant had muddled sugar and salt), but they are supportive of the contestants’ efforts and quick to point out what they have done well.  It seems like most contestants feel they actually learn something.

Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres work well together, with Byer’s rather sarcastic enthusiasm working well as a counterpoint to Torres’ quiet humour and to-die-for french accent.  Seriously, he says “buttercream” a million times on this show, and I could still listen to him say it a million more.  Torres also teaches Byer and the guest judge some tips and tricks whilst the contestants are working, which is helpful for viewers.

Overall, it is an incredibly fun show to watch, and with each episode only lasting half an hour it is a really nice way to have a quick moment to unwind and fill you with the lust for cake and biscuits.  10/10 would watch again.