Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?

Hmm…I don’t know!

That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.

So there are a lot of period dramas I plan on reviewing, but to start it off-I’m doing something a bit unexpected.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

Laura Jean is is a romantic. She reads romances, watches romantic films and Rom-Coms-her favorite is Sixteen Candles-and she dreams about the beauty of love in her head.

She wishes she could be in a romance book or film.

When Laura Jean falls in love she writes love letters, but she never sends them. Whenever she falls for a guy she writes them a letter, addresses it, seals it, and stashes it in her closet. She has fallen in love with five guys, so far:

  • Kenny from camp
  • John Ambrose McClaren from Model U. N.
  • Peter Kavinsky in 7th Grade
  • Lucas after Homecoming
  • Josh Sanderson, best friend turned sister’s boyfriend

Ouch, that last one-yes, Laura was best friends with Josh, but then her sister and him started dating. Very awkward!

It is the start of junior year and Laura’s sister is heading off to college to Scotland. Laura is feeling a little lost as she is losing her other best friend and the one she has…well it is even more awkward now that he isn’t dating her sister than when he was.

School is okay, as Laura Jean isn’t the most popular girl in school but it never really mattered before, but now she feels lonely without her sister.

Everything is normal until one day Peter Kavinsky approaches her out of the blue stating that nothing will ever happen between them.

Huh?

Laura Jean is confused, until she realizes he has her letter!! Josh does too, so in order to dissuade him-and to keep more awkward conversations from happening between her and Josh and her sister-she kisses Peter and takes off.

At home she discovers that all the letters are gone! Kenny’s from camp is returned to her, as address is wrong (*phew*) but all the others were sent out and received.

Lucas approaches her and reveals to her that he is gay, and the two actually become friends, this continuing throughout the movie. Peter’s girlfriend, Genevieve, dumped him for a college guy, and in order to get her back-he approaches Laura Jean about pretending to be his new girlfriend, as him dating Laura Jean will piss her off. Genevieve and Laura Jean used to be friends, but back in seventh grade it ended. At a party, they were playing spin-the-bottle and it landed on Peter, Genevieve’s crush. (That kiss lead to the writing of Laura Jean’s letter).

Laura Jean isn’t interested, but then Peter points out that if they are “dating”, then Josh won’t believe the letter is how Laura Jean feels now-and no awkward conversations will have to be done with Josh or Margo. Laura Jean agrees after they come up with a series of rules.

The two start “dating” and really enjoying each other’s company. Laura Jean’s mother died when she was little and she grew up with only one parent and her sisters. Peter’s dad left him and started a new family, it being just his mom and brother. They bond over what that feels like and have conversations they would never have with anyone else.

Most of all they just have fun with each other.

And their plan is working. Genevieve hates the situation and her college guy is quickly dropped as she tries to break the two up. Everything is going great until Laura Jean falls in love with her fake boyfriend. Will everything turn out okay?

So not fun…

Let me say that I love, love loved this movie. I put it on as background noise while I was doing something else and I stopped working as I was sucked in and just could not stop watching. It made me laugh, aw, and I just all around enjoyed it.

I can’t stop watching!

Now I know you think this film has been done a thousand times, and yes the fake relationship has-but what makes this stand out is the character Laura Jean. She is relatable, realistic, and so much fun. She was smart, but at the same time didn’t know all the answers to everything. She loved romance in books and movies, but was afraid at real commitment-understandable as she had lost her mother and now her sister has “left her.”

I liked the fact that they came up with rules as I have always thought that if you were to do this in real life the first thing you would need is a set of rules and a strong backstory.

I also liked that they broke up for actual serious reasons. Often they have the couple break up over silly misunderstandings that would be easily solved if the two would just talk to each other. But the fact that this guy says that he is into you but constantly talking to his ex-girlfriend and spent the night in her room? Good for you Laura Jean-that’s a no.

So I know you are all wondering-why would a Jane Austen fan like it? Well there are a few reasons. First of all Laura Jean is sooo Catherine Morland-a girl who loves romance novels and finds herself in one?! Out of all the Austen heroines that’s the one that most kept popping in my mind. How Laura Jean imagines herself in romance novels-and being sweet and naive. 

The relationship between Laura and Peter is reminiscent of Catherine and Mr. Tilney, both couples having great banter with their love interests-laughing and joking around with each other.

Like I said above, Peter isn’t exactly Mr. Tilney, but they do share commonalities. Both care about their younger siblings a lot and have a strained relationship with their fathers. They also don’t always follow social norms but do what they want, and enjoy joking around.

Another thing that Austen fans will enjoy is the family relationships. In Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, the main Austen heroines didn’t have a lot of friends besides their own sisters. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth does have Charlotte Lucas, but just like how Laura Jean’s friend is practically non-existent in this film, the two don’t spend a lot of the book spending time together. Mostly, their best friends are their sisters (like Jane Austen’s sister was). In Pride and Prejudice, Jane goes away for a period of time to stay with relatives, and Elizabeth is very lonely with her gone-just how Laura Jean feels when Margo goes away for school. Speaking of P&P, Laura Jean’s little sister Kitty-she’s like a combo of Lydia and Kitty. Meddling, outspoken, more mature than her years in some aspects (but still a child in others).

Like Sense and Sensibility, we have an older, more sensible sister-Margo/Elinor; a romantic, reader, middle sister-Laura Jean/Marianne; and a spunky, does thing her own thing, younger sister-Kitty/Margaret. Like in S&S, The older siblings have a very close relationship, but both keep secrets from each other. But through all the ups and downs-secret holding and ultimately revealing the truth-the sisters are there for each other.

The other thing that Austen fans will love- is that letters play a crucial role in the film and in the plot. In Austen’s time, letters were extremely important-being the only way of communicating when apart, but often read out loud and like the TV of the day. In Austen’s books-letters play a very important role. The two most known of course are Darcy’s letter in Pride and Prejudice and Captain Wentworth’s letter in Persuasion. Like those novels-the letters Laura Jean writes to her love interests, start all the events in the film, but just like those two Austen men’s letters bring a romantic conclusion-the love notes Peter wrote her are what convince her of his love.

I recommend it for any Austen fan.

For more Young Adult/Teen works, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Suitors and Sabotage

For more love letters, go to You Were Right, Let’s Get Married: Psycho (1960)

For more Austen film/TV show reviews, go to Mrs. Darcy Wants to Know the Truth!: Death Comes to Pemberley, Episode Three (2013)

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China is Here Mr. Burton. The Chang Sing, The Wing Kong, They’ve Been Fighting for Centuries: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

China is here Mr. Burton. The Chang Sing, The Wing Kong, they’ve been fighting for centuries.

I have wanted to watch this movie for a loooooong time. I heard it was good, Kurt Russell looks fantastic; but every time I tried to see it I always came in near the end.

One day, my friend and I were cruising through Netflix and we decided to check it out.

Let me say this is one of the weirdest films I have ever seen.

What?

I don’t even know really how to review it. I mean it is hard to classify it. It is kinda horror-comedy-action-adventure-everything. Half the time I wasn’t even sure what was going on

Huh?

But surprising to me, I really liked it.

So the film starts off with Egg Shen (Victor Wong, the grandpa from 3 Ninjas), telling an account of what happened…

Flashback

Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is a truck driver throughout California. He stops in San Francisco for a delivery and to meet up with some friends for some gambling. His friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) bets him double or nothing, but loses. Jack wants his money immediately, but Wang has to run to the airport to pick up his fiancé, Maio Yin. Jack doesn’t want to go, but whatever.

Meh.

When they get there, they are interrupted by a woman grabbing onto another Chinese woman and a gang of guys taking Maio Yin. The guys try to go after them and find themselves caught in a supernatural battle with mystical and legendary characters.

All kinds of crazy things happen, confusing crazy things-you totally need to watch yourself.

Jack Burton: All I know is, this Lo Pan character comes out of thin air in the middle of a ******* alley while his buddies are flying around on wires cutting everybody to shreds, and he just stands there waiting for me to drive my truck straight through him with *light* coming out of his mouth!

And this is one of the reasons that makes this film so enjoyable. It is a crazy film blending Chinese mysticism, history, and all blended in modern times. So a lot of the film you go:

Help me! I’m confused!

And the best thing is that Jack Burton spends most of the film this way. He is totally confused and lost; meaning that he gets to be us. He takes place of us in the film. You completely relate to him and everything he is going through and thinks.

So they are interrupted by Wang Chi’s cousin Eddie Lee who wants to help them (he’s a lawyer). While they are al taking, in bursts the woman from the airport who took the Chinese woman- lawyer Gracie Law (Kim Cattral).

Kim Cattral cracks me up in this, I could totally see her with her own little sitcom-with bumpity high music playing in the background as she charges in shouting “I’m Gracie Law”.

So what happened was that Gracie Law is an immigration lawyer and was helping a Chinese woman escape from being sold into sexual slavery. When she took the woman they paid for, the guys sent needed to bring someone back so they took the first Chinese woman they saw-Maio Yin.

Yep, Maio Yin just came in at the wrong time.

So they are trying to get her back, but it will be hard.

Wang Chi: Jack, listen, I need more of your help. I can’t pay you today, okay?

Jack Burton: Oh, s***.

Wang Chi: How can I? I need all my cash for Miao Yin.

Eddie: And it’s gonna cost. She’s got green eyes.

Gracie: Oh no, seriously? Oh, that’s an extra to these people. It’s like leather bucket seats, it’s double the price.

The group-Gracie Law, Jack Burton, Eddie Lee, Wang Chi and Gracie’s reporter friend Margo-concoct a plan to try and spring her from the brothel. I love him trying to act like a nerdy guy. And let me say that Kurt Russell totally pulls off the brawny-beefy guy and the cute-smart guy in glasses.

But they are interrupted by the mystical and magical Lo Pan. Lo Pan wants Maio Yin because of her green eyes, he has been looking for a green-eyed Chinese bride for centuries. When he realizes Gracie Law also has green eyes he decides to take her too.

“Lo Pan: Egg Shen… EGG SHEN! You have come a long ways to find me. But it is too late. There are two girls with green eyes, and I will marry them both. And then I will sacrifice Gracie Law to appease my emperor and live out my earthly pleasures with Miao Yin. [cacklesThat’s right, Egg Shen. The best of two worlds!”

Here is where things get crazy. Kurt Russell has a fantastic scene in the wheelchair, you’ve got to see it. What a hunk!

The rest you have to try to view on your own. I loved how Kurt Russell is this buff and manly dude, but then he ends up shooting his gun in the ceiling and knocking himself out and fighting and getting knocked out of it. Yes, in reality, Kurt Russell/Jack Burton doesn’t turn out to be the main character but the sidekick, Wang Chi being the real savior of the day with his awesome moves.

And the end is hilarious, it is so unexpected, I just love it! I just loved the film.

Not to mention I have a new couple goal. I’ve said I’d love to dress up as Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables but here is another. I totally want to be Jack Burton and Gracie Law. I mean I HAVE green eyes, and there are very few anything green-eyes, so I am down for that. Plus I love Jack’s style-you know me and boots. The only issue I see is trying to find the bride’s headpiece-and of course the guy to do it with. I know I could do it on my own, but it hard enough to know who we are together, never mind on my own.

Maybe one day.

Aw!

To start Horrorfest VI from the beginning, go to One of Our Guests is a Werewolf, I Know It.: The Beast Must Die (1974)

For the previous post, go to Because We’re Addams: The Addams Family (1991)

For more John Carpenter films, go to Everyone’s Entitled to One Good Scare: Halloween (1978)

For more ’80s films, go to That’s What We’re Trying to Find out! We’re Trying to Find Out Who Killed Him, and Where, and With What!: Clue (1985)

For more horror-comedies, go to I Died for You! I Came Back from the Dead for You! I Love You!: My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)