The Kissing Booth is one of Netflix’s most popular rom-coms. Not only did it bring fame to the iconic Jacob Elordi, but it was also just the right combination of cringe-y, realistic and fun, with a pointed direction of where the plot was going.
The sequel didn’t take after its predecessor in that regard, with hardly any sense of direction with the plot, forced LGBTQ+ representation and a TATB: P.S. I Still Love You vibe that is extremely overwhelming.
The sequel follows Elle (Joey King) and Lee (Joel Courtney), who have patched up their friendship and are entering senior year of high school stronger than ever. Elle is still doing long distance with Noah (Elordi), who is at Harvard, and as a result, Lee and Rachel (Meganne Young) are feeling the pressure from their pseudo-thruple with Elle constantly hanging around.
Everything seems to be relatively normal until the new “snack” of a transfer student, Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez), and Noah’s new BFF, Chloe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), make Elle question everything.
Arguably the biggest plus of the film is King’s relatability and realistic aspect of her character. She’s a normal high school girl: cute, kind of smart, slightly annoying and quirky in a way that doesn’t give you Manic Pixie Dream Girl vibes. It’s nice to see a heroine who isn’t unreachable and unattainable because let’s be honest: as much as we all love to watch shows like Euphoria, the female heroines are all drop-dead gorgeous in an almost unrealistic way.
Richardson-Sellers’ performance as Chloe is also very appreciated in the sense that she juxtaposes King’s portrayal of Elle very well. She’s gorgeous, calm, cool and collected, but she’s not mean or vindictive and stays a stable woman for younger women watching to look up to and learn a thing or two from.
Elordi and Courtney bring consistent performances from the original film. They have the same great energy and are both captivating to watch during their screen time. But it’s Perez’s debut performance as Marco that’s really memorable, acting as a breath of fresh air with his gorgeous face, adorable personality and ability to whip out his guitar seemingly out of nowhere. However, it’s hard to deny that Marco is like Elordi’s character, Noah, just in different fonts.
The real issue with the film doesn’t lie within the cast or physical production, but rather, within the dialogue and run time. Both the sequel and the first film featured some very cringe-worthy dialogue, but that’s to be expected from films like this. But there was a lot of dialogue and plotlines that were wildly unnecessary and could’ve cut the film’s two-hour and 11-minute run time down to about 90 minutes, especially since the film didn’t even get really compelling until about an hour and a half in.
The first plot that needed to go was the ridiculous attempt at LGBTQ+ representation. It was almost sad how desperate the writers seemed when creating this plot between side characters Ollie (Judd Krok) and Miles (Evan Hengst), who were too afraid to admit to each other how they felt. It felt extremely forced and had nothing to do with the plot whatsoever. It ended up being a way for the writers to pat themselves on the back about including some LGBTQ+ representation in a film filled with straight people.
Similarly to the realistic elements in King’s heroine portrayal, the film also does show some really accurate immature behavior of high school students. These are especially apparent when it comes to Elle being paranoid that Noah is cheating on her and the number of times Elle tries to refer to herself as “mature,” even though she is anything but.
Though the film ends on a “cliffhanger” (I’m being generous), we apparently won’t have to wait very long. The cast also filmed Kissing Booth 3 around the same time as the sequel, so we can find out what happens to Noah and Elle.
Overall, the film has some enjoyable moments, but it’s mostly just stretching itself out to have the same impact as the first one, to no avail. I have no idea why they would even want to make a third film, but I’m wishing the writers, cast and the rest of the crew luck and hoping that there will be more redeeming qualities about The Kissing Booth 3.