• Olivia Kate

Movie Review: The Kissing Booth 2

The second installment of Netflix's Kissing Booth series is a fun, teen romance but it has very little in common with the first movie.



A Little Background


In 2018, Netflix released the first Kissing Booth movie, based on the Wattpad novel by author Beth Reekles. The movie was a commercial success for Netflix, which greenlit another two movies in the series. The Kissing Booth 2 premiered on July 24th, 2020. The movie became a mid-quarantine hit as the most-streamed movie on Netflix during its first weekend on the platform.


The first two movies are available now on Netflix, with the third movie already filmed and scheduled for release 2021.


This movie diverges from the plot of the second book substantially, mostly using the characters and set up of the first to inspire an entirely new story.



The Premise


The first film followed the story of Elle Evans, a high school student who makes a pact with her best friend, Lee, that she will not date his brother, Noah. When Elle kisses Noah at their school fair's kissing booth, she finds herself breaking her promise and the two begin sneaking around behind Lee's back.


This movie picks up after that summer, when Noah has gone away to college in Boston, and Elle and Lee are beginning their senior year of high school. Elle and Noah struggle to cope with the challenges of maintaining their long-distance relationship, especially when Noah begins spending time with an attractive female friend.


With the long-distance dynamic providing very little screen time for Elle and Noah as a couple, this movie has a very different vibe from the original. The movie strays from the secret-relationship trope and best friend/boyfriend brother dynamic, and in doing so loses something that made the original so compelling.


Instead, the movie leans heavily on tired clichés that can be more cringy than endearing. The Kissing Booth 2 incorporates every high school movie cliché, including the "accidentally turned on the announcement mic” moment, the popular girl gang, students not-so-subtly whispering rumors in the hallways, and of course: the college admissions essay used as a narrative device. These feel more like cheap, forced concepts of what 40-year-old producers think young people like. In diverging from Reekles's writing, they've lost that earnest, teen charm that made the original appealing.



What Worked


Joey King is excellent as Elle Evans, as is Joel Courtney in the role of her best friend, Lee. They both manage to pull off nuanced performances that make potentially unlikeable characters incredibly endearing.


It was also great to see some elements of a more realistic teen experience: playing Dance Dance Revolution at the arcade, struggling to afford college tuition, and dealing with the culture shock of adjusting to college life.


It's also really great to see the depiction of Elle and Lee's truly platonic male-female friendship, which is rarely done well in movies. This may have worked so well because Reekles did such a great job of establishing their bond in the books.



What Didn't Work


Some of the choices producers made seem pretty fantastical and it can be hard to suspend disbelief. The school's "field day" features the world’s most elaborate student obstacle course complete with mud pits—that's what high school is like, right? And of course, their Halloween dance looks more like a Hollywood mansion party than anything put on by high school administrators. At least half of the cast is made up of 30-somethings that we're supposed to believe are under 18.


At one particularly awkward moment, Lee embarks on the world’s clumsiest stumble-run through the hallway. The scene feels remarkably absurd and it's hard to see it as anything but silly.



Is it Worth a Watch?


Honestly—why not? The Kissing Booth 2 misses that special something of the first movie, but it was never going to be the next Oscar winner. It's a fun, light-hearted teen coming-of-age story that further explores the world of Beth Reekles's loveable series. Watch it, just know not to expect high art cinema.



The Kissing Booth 2

Watch the Movie Netflix

Read the Book Wattpad


The Kissing Booth (Original)

Watch the Movie Netflix

Read the Book Wattpad


What did you think of the Kissing Booth sequel? Tell us in the comments!

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