The Problem with Noah Centineo

Four of Noah Centineo’s most popular movies: To All the Boys I’ve loved Before, Sierra Burgess is a Loser, Swiped, and The Perfect Date. Noah Centineo is Netflix’s breakout star…but why? Photos via Netflix.

Anyone who enjoys the occasional slumber-party rom-com has probably heard the name Noah Centineo in recent years. The 24-year-old actor/model has been undoubtedly crowned Teen Heartthrob King for his somewhat cliché roles, like his portrayal of Peter Kavinsky in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018) and Jamey in Sierra Burgess is a Loser (2018). Centineo’s soft, non-threatening attractiveness and ambiguous age (he can play a teen, and also pass as a dude in his mid-30s) work to his advantage in many cases, with younger audiences quick to name him their actor of the month and pounce on a chance to create a fan account. I’m not here to bash viewers for liking something and sharing their love for that thing on the internet (believe me, I passed around a fair share of Timothée Chalamet edits in my day). It can be especially difficult for young girls to express their love of something, online or in real life, without the subject being picked apart and written off as not a worthy item of interest. Especially if that item has to do with romance or things deemed too “girly.” I’m not here to make Noah Centineo fans feel bad; I’m here to discuss the massive phenomenon that is the man himself. What is his appeal? Why is he rising so fast? Is it really his acting, or is it something else? 

Here’s a quick timeline of Noah Centineo’s career. Centineo has been acting since 2009, starring in a film called The Gold Retrievers, and playing a few television roles as a teen. He was put on the map with his role in 2017’s coming-of-age romantic comedy SPF-18. In 2018, he was in three extremely popular romantic comedy films, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (or TATBILB), Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, and Swiped. In 2019, Centineo starred in yet another romantic comedy, The Perfect Date, and had a role in the perfectly mediocre Charlie’s Angels remake. 2020 brought him the second installment of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You and has a third TATBILB movie in post production with a TBD release date. Centineo even snagged a People’s Choice Award, winning 2019’s Comedy Movie Star for his role in Swiped. All that is to say, Centineo definitely has an impressive resume, albeit one filled with many repeats of virtually the same role. As a connoisseur of less-than-perfect romantic comedies to watch with friends while extremely tired, I know a bit about Noah Centineo. I also know what irks me about him. It’s typical for an actor to be typecast as a certain character. An older woman with a certain look being continuously cast as a mother, a man with a certain set of villainous looking features repeatedly cast as a henchman, and a classically handsome approachable actor like Centineo being cast as the shy-but-charismatic boy next door. In the film that really put him in the spotlight, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Centineo’s questionable acting skills might have been easy to overlook because of the above average writing and plotline. TATBILB, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Jenny Han, was an enjoyable movie. With an interesting storyline, decently developed female characters and overall upbeat theme, this movie was the thinly woven shroud covering Centineo’s mediocre at best acting capabilities. 

As the writing gets worse and the plotlines shrivel away movie by movie, the sensitive persona and over dramatic facial expressions become more apparent. Jillian Dixon (12) explains how Centineo’s acting style makes her feel: “He makes me feel embarrassed for him because I can tell he’s trying to be ‘not like most guys’ but he is the epitome of Most Guys.” Tali Hastings (12) explains why the extreme hype over Centineo is too much: “I think he’s just another generic white guy actor. In the same category as the guy from The Kissing Booth (22-year old Jacob Elordi), and the guy from After (22-year old Hero Fiennes-Tiffin).” Eva Carr (12) has a simple yet concise statement about Centineo: “He confuses me, he looks confusing, and he is confused.” The novelty of the roles have worn off, and the intense eyebrow lifts make him seem silly rather than upset or serious. With no subtlety and way too many jerky body movements, Centineo is, in my opinion, not living up to the acting hype he is receiving.

Aside from the acting issues, Centineo has another…habit. With a proclivity for sharing his thoughts to the world, Centineo has had many a public display of faux social awareness. During his acceptance speech after winning his Teen Choice Award, Centineo delivered an interesting final line to close out his time onstage, saying, “It matters not what you’ve done, but what you do with what you’ve done, for others.” Needless to say, this 2010 Tumblr-style quote was confusing to many watchers. Centineo also tries his hand at Twitter, frequently posting philosophical, inspirational, and downright confusing non-sequiturs such as: 

“We can still think those thoughts we thought before we thought better of them.”

“A voyage to the center of one’s own heart.”

“You got a semi-automatic mouth loaded with blanks.”

“It is a blessing and a curse to look behind the curtain.”

“*when she sends you a Live Photo and you get a glimpse into her essence*”

“How long does it take to fall in Love? Depends how fast you jump.”

I know. Shakespearean, to say the least. 

It is difficult to picture Centineo outside of his role as a likeable good guy teen with just the right amount of personality quirks. And seeing as his flair for the dramatic is less than endearing, Noah Centineo feels like a name that might always be associated with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Hastings says,“I think he’s one of those actors whose career is going nowhere and these past couple years have been his peak.” Despite all his acting flaws, as soon as Netflix puts out a new Centineo teen comedy flick, I won’t hesitate to watch.

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