Movie: The Kissing Booth 2
Release date: July 24th, 2020
Cast: Joey King, Jacob Elordi, Taylor Zakhar Perez, Joel Courtney, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Meganne Young, Molly Ringwald
Run time: 2 hours, 11 minutes
Director: Vince Marcello
The Kissing Booth somehow reigns as Netflix’s most rewatched movie of all time. It’s sequel, The Kissing Booth 2, follows its predecessor’s footsteps in being just as cheesy and predictable. TKB2 proves to be mildly entertaining if you grab a bucket of ice cream and ignore the fact that Netflix has possibly over-done and squeezed out any remaining substance from the teen rom-com genre.
The Kissing Booth followed the story of Elle Evans (Joey King) and her ride-or-die friendship with Lee Flynn (Joel Courtney). Elle struggles to hold on to her friendship with Lee while simultaneously falling for his elder brother, bad-boy Noah (Jacob Elordi). The movie ends with Elle not having to lose either brother, and saying good bye to her new, reformed boyfriend Noah, who’s off to Harvard. The Kissing Booth 2 explores Elle’s long-distance relationship, college admissions, and a cute new face than can “get it” – Marco Peña (Taylor Zakhar Perez).
With a run time of 2 hours and 11 minutes, The Kissing Booth 2 feels unnecessarily long. Especially for a movie that doesn’t really contribute any novelty to the teen rom-com genre. Some scenes did not need to be as long as they were, such as Marco’s introduction. Elle’s description of Marco’s appearance being broadcast to the entire school was funny – until it started to feel like endless rambling. However, one certainly enjoyable factor about this movie is the high-quality eye candy that it provides. It’s hard to take your eyes off both Noah’s new friend Chloe Winthrop (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), and Marco. Marco and Chloe’s faces alone probably make this movie worth the watch. They’re undeniably gorgeous.
TKB2 has several irksome things about it that I just can’t help but point out.
For starters, Marco is just okay with Elle keeping the $50,000 to herself? Elle’s texts with Noah almost never have a chat history? And Elle doesn’t think that it’s insane to apply to nowhere except the second most selective school in California? The sleep-deprived high school senior in me, juggling 15 different college applications, is quaking.
For a comfort movie, TKB2 makes it seem alarmingly easy to get accepted to both Harvard and Berkeley?? Who also sent in their decisions during graduation (failing the reality check here, TKB2)? Harvard, the apex of American academia, with a 5% acceptance rate, accepted this girl? When the most remarkable thing about her was that she had a podcast with 32 subscribers? Sorry Kissing Booth, but as cutesy as Elle’s essay was, Elle Woods from Legally Blonde‘s acceptance into Harvard was somehow more believable. And that’s saying something.
We also can’t forget TKB2’s attempt to throw in a gay couple and pretend that this movie is not just about straight, white, rich people.
And here’s when Netflix‘s teen rom-com formula becomes evident: it consists of 2 buff guys, cute but confused girl, and occasional lgbtqia+ characters (who have no substance or purpose except being gay) on the side for performative inclusivity. Add to or subtract from this formula, and you have your generic Netflix teen rom-com.
Joey King gives life to Elle – she’s loud, fun, confused, thoughtful, and emotional. Even though several characters, such as the OMGs (maybe intentionally and satirically so), Chloe, Rachel, and Marco seem one-dimensional, King does a pretty good job as Elle. Her chemistry with both Noah and Marco is also solid (especially considering that Jacob Elordi is Joey King’s irl-ex). Although King’s role on Hulu’s The Act was far more commendable, King’s performance is up to scratch.
Quite possibly the only innovative aspect of this series is the Kissing Booth itself, which disappointingly, gets very little attention in this sequel. But I guess one has to keep in mind that The Kissing Booth 2 isn’t striving to be a cultural phenomenon; it seeks to provide viewers with 2 hours of cliched, sappy, feel-good teen movie tropes. And it does exactly that.
Overall, this movie is a decent watch if you have time to kill and enjoy the pretty faces.