“Life throws curves at you, you think it’s moving one way, and suddenly realize it’s heading in the opposite direction.”Joey King, The Kissing Booth 2
Release Date: July 24th, 2020 | Director: Vince Marcello
This review talks about the second movie in this trilogy (I think?) and may include some spoilers. I haven’t reviewed the first movie because it came out long before this blog existed, so there may be some spoilers of the first film. Read at your own risk.
Kissing Booth 2 follows the aftermath of Noah Flynn and Elle’s coupling. As Noah leaves for Harvard, Elle has to navigate the challenges of a long distance relationship while working on her own college applications. When Noah suggests that Elle should apply to Harvard, Elle has to figure out how to break the news to Lee (her best friend). Meanwhile, there’s a new student at their high school named Marco, who Elle has undeniable chemistry with and who Elle is stuck partnering up with to compete in a competition in order to help her father afford the private universities that Elle is applying to.
If there is ever a more problematic teen movie franchise, I have yet to see it (The After franchise gives it a run for its money though) There are so many things wrong with this movie that I’m not quite sure where to begin. The relationship between Noah and Elle is akin to the relationship of two middle schoolers who haven’t grasped the importance of communication (though this might be an insult to middle schoolers). Elle insists on being the “cool” girlfriend and tries to give Noah his space. However, Noah is extremely lonely at Harvard and struggles to make friends. Noah befriends a beautiful girl named Chloe who becomes a source of jealousy for Elle and is seemingly portrayed as the catalyst for the events in this movie. This is an extremely problematic outlook as Noah should be held accountable for his actions and Elle’s anger shouldn’t be directed towards Chloe, but for much of the movie it feels like it is. Elle also completely avoids talking to Noah about this out of fear that he might lie to her. This is consistent with the Noah Flynn that was introduced in the first movie with all of his anger issues and womanizing habits. There was never a resolution to his anger issues and the fact that Noah becomes a level-headed person only three months after the conclusion of the first movie is just unrealistic and meant to absolve Noah of the problematic qualities that were exhibited in the first movie.
In terms of Elle’s relationship with Lee and Hannah, this is also an example of a man pitting two women against each other. Lee wants to maintain his relationship with Hannah without having to sacrifice or offend Elle. However, Hannah wants to feel as though she is important to Lee and Lee never quite seems to understand that. This causes resentment towards Elle when Lee discovers that Elle wants to apply to a college other than their agreed upon school. Lee feels as though Elle is abandoning him when he basically sacrificed his relationship. This also being said, Lee and Elle’s list of rules is so problematic because friendships shouldn’t require rules. They should naturally flow and forcing your friend to act a certain way in order to live up to imaginary expectations doesn’t equate to a strong friendship. Elle should have a bit more agency when it comes to standing up to Lee and Noah because it always feels as though she is revolving her life decisions around them. In the age of the woman, Elle falls flat because she always seems to need someone to think for her.
Since the movie focuses so heavily on relationships, breaking down the problems with the relationships also breaks down the issues with the plot. There is another issue that seems to group Kissing Booth 2 in with many romantic comedies; there is no diversity. When I say diversity, I don’t mean the two BIPOC characters that were thrown in to fill a quota. I also mean that there is no LGBTQIA+ representation aside from two random guys that are barely relevant in the first movie. The two main couples are herterosexual, which is fine, but then the second movie should follow that example. The film failed because Hollywood shouldn’t just throw in these couples without allowing the audience to get to know them. This method causes a lack of connection and therefore a lack of impact. Chloe and Marco, the only BIPOC characters that get ample screen time, are so much more entertaining than the “core four” that the only time I was really paying attention to the movie is when they were on screen.
I highly recommend that you save your time. There is absolutely no need to watch this film and suffer its unnecessary 131 minute runtime. While Joey King attempted to bring life to her character, I really could’ve done without much of this movie. There is no reason for this film to have been made and there is really no reason for there to be a third. However, I am a sucker for problematic, poorly made rom-coms; so, stay tuned for the 2021 review of Kissing Booth 3.