Tag Archives: John Corbett

To All The Boys: Always and Forever

Prepare your tender hearts for possible breakage: this is the third (and final) installment in the To All The Boys series and in it we’ll bid adieu to our favourite young couple, Lara Jean and Peter. They’ve come a long way from merely posing as a couple in the first film to being threatened by charming rival suitors in the second. Seniors in high school, they’re about to graduate and go to Stanford together – or are they?

Back from a spring break in Seoul, Lara Jean learns she hasn’t been accepted to Stanford and suddenly the entire future she and Peter have envisioned together is in flux. With a class trip to New York City, prom, and graduation on the horizon, these milestones might have to be borne solo. If Lara Jean and Peter aren’t going to college together, they may as well just go through with the inevitable break up now and get it over with.

After three movies worth of emotional investment, it’s hard to say goodbye to Lara Jean and Peter, but first loves aren’t necessarily forever, and it’s sort of sweet to see Lara Jean finding happiness on her own terms, with or without Peter. In the first two movies she wondered who she loved but now she’s wondering what else she values and who else she is. Now this is growing up.

Director Michael Fimognari called this movie “an unintentional love letter” and he’s got a point; filmed back to back with the second one, this movie didn’t predict that the class of 2021 would be disrupted by a global pandemic, so this movie’s graduating class is perhaps the only one that will get to slow dance at prom and don caps and gowns without social distancing. Most of their real-life contemporaries have given up so much so in a sense we’re all living vicariously through Lara Jean and Peter.

It’s heartbreaking to say goodbye to these two high school sweethearts but all good things must come to an end and all things considered, this is a pretty fitting farewell for our two star-crossed lovers.

To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You

Lara Jean and Peter are officially girlfriend and boyfriend.

You may recall in the first film, Lara Jean’s little sister sent out a bunch of love letters that she’d been writing to her crushes to release some of your tortured young passion. The love letters were personal and confessional and never meant to be read by anyone, but most of all not by the people to whom they were addressed. And yet they were.

Which brought Lara Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter (Noah Centineo) together, superficially at first. They pretended to date because they each had certain needs their high school hearts could justify but you might guess that they eventually found themselves falling in love. Cue the sequel!

Everything is right with the world, except for the fact that Lara Jean can’t quite forget Peter’s ex and jealousy doesn’t exactly become her. But there are worse things to come. One of the other love letter recipients finally resurfaces: John Ambrose (Jordan Fisher) and man is he cute. In fact, he and Lara Jean end up volunteering together and circumstances are perfect for dying embers to reignite.

There’s a sweet innocence to these movies that holds some sort of universal appeal – perhaps because we’ve all had a first love and not only can we relate, but it’s sort of fun to revisit. But we also get wrapped up in Lara Jean and Peter’s romance because it’s a lived fairy tale. How does Peter have money to take dates to 5-star restaurants and why does Lara Jean have a series of cocktail dresses? They’re babies. They should be going on awkward group dates to the movies, getting dropped off by whomever’s mom had the biggest mini van, or hanging out in each other’s living rooms with their siblings not only watching but actively trying to humiliate.

Anyway, I’m finding it impossible not to be charmed by this franchise. The leads are exceedingly likable and the whole thing goes down as easily as a box of chocolates on Valentine’s day, so why resist? To All The Boys is one indulgence I’m not going to feel guilty about.



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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Netflix is trying to resuscitate the rom-com. I remain unconverted. How does their latest attempt fare?

Lara Jane is about to be a junior in high school. Her older sister Margot has just left for college in Scotland, leaving behind a huge gap – a gap only grown wider because she broke up with her boyfriend Josh, literally the boy next door, before leaving, and he was an every day presence in their home – not least of all because he was Lara Jane’s friend and secret crush first. With Margot gone, it’s just Lara Jane and little sister Kitty, who isn’t afraid to call out her sister for being super lame and not having any weekend plans of her own. Their mother is dead so it’s just them and their dad.

But then something weird happens. Lara Jane’s old, secret crushes all receive letters MV5BYWNhOTJiMzYtNmY5NS00ZDNkLTg4NjUtNTRhNzRkODg5MTQ4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTk5MTc3MTc@._V1_from her. Letters that she wrote eons ago when the crushes were new and exciting but never, EVER, intended to send. Josh receives one, and so does Peter, Lara Jane’s first kiss but current boyfriend of her arch-enemy. Ah, high school. But she’s so desperate to avoid Josh that she consents to have a fake relationship with Peter in order to divert attention. It’s the kind of plan that can only seem reasonable to a 16 year old.

Lana Condor is all kinds of adorable as Lara Jane. She’s sweet and charming and nearly everything you’d want in a romantic lead in 2018 (dorky, smart, independent). Is adorkable a thing? It should be. Lara Jane is it. But just as 2018 demands a new kind of romantic lead, it also needs a new kind of boyfriend. No more brooding, distant, too-cool-to-give-a-shit guys. Peter Kavinsky is not just the floppy-haired, Jeep-driving boyfriend you want, he’s the kind of teddy bear you deserve – kind and thoughtful and loving. He puts more work into a fake relationship than every mopey 80s hunk or neurotic 90s hearthrob combined. 2018’s boyfriend ideal is in touch with his feelings, and he just wants you to be happy.

The movie takes no risks and offers no surprises. The two blandly handsome possible love interests, played by Noah Centineo and Israel Broussard, look similar enough that Sean couldn’t tell them apart. Sean is no teenage girl. Teenage girls, I bet, will have no problem choosing which one to swoon over (and apparently there IS a right answer). For me, this movie felt very Disney channel, and its constant 16 Candles references didn’t really earn it any favourable comparisons (in fact, it made Sean mourn some distinct missed opportunities). To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is not a rom-com for old ladies like me. It’s innocent in a lot of ways, but with a 2018 flavour that’s still alien to me. But I have no doubt it will find its audience – it’s just not going to be anyone born in the previous century, and not even John Corbett (no longer the leading man, relegated strictly to dad status) can change that.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Bigger, Fatter, Greeker: 14 years after the original burst onto the scene, taking Hollywood by surprise and launching Nia Vardalos into instant stardom, comes its unnecessary sequel.

Oh sure all the endearing characters are back from the first – and their sugar-coated stereotypes too. Opa!

Watching this movie is a lot like visiting your family: yes they’re a little racist, and lot invasive of your personal business, but they’re familiar, and mostly harmless. They mean well.

Nia Vardalos, writer and star of both movies, pulls from her old bag of tricks and has literally nothing fresh to offer. Characters Toula and Ian (token white guy – John Corbett) have a daughter now who’s all grown up and wearing makeup. She’s threatening to go to NYU, and an empty nest does not look good on Greeks. What to do? Well, neglect your marriage, for one. But insert yourself into everyone else’s. Add 2 cups chopped spinach and about 8 sheets of phyllo dough and you’ve got yourself a recipe for spanakopita if nothing else.

This movie has a very slim demographic: die-hard fans of the first film (such as Nia’s mother, perhaps?) and ladies optioning their senior’s discount at the box office. I had the pleasure of catching a matinee of this movie among some very gray heads, and they laughed at some very strange moments that I failed identify as jokes. But yes, this movie is the kind of safe, benign, watered down humour that relies heavily on cliché: exactly the kind of thing your grandmother will enjoy.

The Boy Next Door

This is not a good movie. If you want to see a good movie, go to any other movie and there’s a chance it might be good. There’s not a hope in heaven of this one being decent but if you’ve simply come to worship at the altar of Jennifer Lopez, buy your ticket and prepare to feast your eyes.

Ms. Lopez plays a high school teacher with a teenage son and a cheating ex-husband. So right Jennifer+Lopez+Set+Boy+Next+Door+6L6ErgtYJHAloff the bat, you don’t buy it. There’s no school board in the world who’d think it a good idea to let her smoulder in spike heels and a clingy pencil skirt in front of hormonal teenage boys on a daily basis. She inspires lust with every bat of her long lashes and apparently routinely wears sexy lingerie under her clothes, yet her husband’s going to wander? Okay, yeah, it happens. Men cheat for all kinds of stupid reasons. It’s just a weird casting decision to go with an iconic sex goddess as the scorned, middle-aged wife.  And it’s nearly as baffling to cast John Corbett as the philandering husband since he’s basically America’s puppy dog. He exudes charm and loyalty and together-foreverness.

So, their marriage is on the rocks. They’re living separately but not quite at the letting-go stage, which is a fine time for a hunky, strapping young man to move in next door (Ryan Guzman). The camera pays close-up attention to his slick muscles to the exclusion of unimportant details like his face. This guy is just a body for hire. A body, meet The Body.

But guess what! Affairs be complicated, especially the May-December ones. Except it’s Jennifer Lopez, and this guy is the same age as most of the guys she dates in real life. But let’s face it, if you were a high schooler who got to bag J-Lo, wouldn’t you do everything you could to keep it going? At least long enough to invite her to prom, right?

Boy-Next-Door-Movie-Sex-SceneSupposedly this film turns into a “thriller” but there aren’t a lot of thrills. But did the screenwriter maybe pick up a big box of clichés for a dime a piece at a garage sale? Yes, those are abundant. In fact, I think she may have just cut up a lot of second-tier scripts, and pasted them back together haphazardly to make something the writers’ room at Days of Our Lives wouldn’t see fit to air. Every time someone opens their mouth, gouda falls out. Oh who am I kidding? It’s more like spray cheez and Guzman just about drenches us with it during his so-called seduction scene. The dialogue is so cheesy I wished I could have just turned the volume off. Because let’s face it. Jenny from the block is down to her black lace panties and we didn’t come here for the talking. Unfortunately, Lopez is trying to turn us on by mewling. I’m certain that in real life she has sex like the bombshell she is, but her “acting” sounds more like a little girl sneezing than a grown woman coming.

The best part about this movie is that I saw it during a weekday matinée in South Keys, just about the only cinema in Ottawa showing daytime movies anymore. Such a shame, because you’ve never seen such a diverse group of characters than those pointed at the screen. A the-boy-next-doorwoman seated a few rows behind me tsk’ed the whole way through. You know that clucking sound old women make when they’re disapproving? It’s usually a series of tsks – this particular woman did 5 in a row, and did them at everything. She seemed to be more disapproving  of reckless driving than murder so I don’t know what her deal was or why she felt the need to CONSTANTLY share it with the theatre (probably 3-4 dozen times during a 90 minute movie) but boy do I love non-verbal editorializing from strangers. Love! Almost as much as I loved hearing from the woman sitting two seats away from me, who came in late and respected the buffer my coat draped across an empty seat implied but just talked louder to compensate. During a scene involving a very large epi pen I cringed and looked away. She practically fell out of her seat to comfort me. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she said, arms flapping, no thought to anyone trying to actually watch the movie. “I’ve seen it before” she says “and it turns out okay.” Colour me relieved. Wait- what? You know how bad this movie is and you paid to see it again? Exactly how many times has she seen this? Enough that she now has a rapport with Lopez – she yells to her “It’s your own fault!” and when this fails to elicit a response she turns to me and yells “It’s her own fault!” and when this also fails to elicit a response (other than my shrinking down further in my seat) she turns back to the screen and tries again “It’s your own fault!” Oh that Jennifer Lopez. She never learns.