I’m assuming if you’re reading this you’re either a diehard supporter of this blog, in which case congratulations on your excellent taste or you’re planning to watch/have watched The Kissing Booth 2, in which case also congratulations on your excellent taste.
Just kidding, you should probably rethink that decision.
The Kissing Booth 2 (2020) was directed by Vince Marcello and dropped on Netflix on July 24th 2020. It is a follow-up to The Kissing Booth (2018), also helmed by Marcello.
If you haven’t seen the first movie, I highly recommend it. But if you have/cannot remember the plot, here’s a quick rundown.
Elle and Lee are best friends. Elle is crushing on Lee’s brother, Noah, which is apparently against one of their friendship rules. A lot of messy stuff happens, but basically Elle convinces Noah to be part of their fundraising kissing booth. They kiss. Sparks fly (literally) and they start dating. Noah gets accepted into Harvard (I know right). They agree to keep dating. Oh, and Lee starts dating some girl called Rachel.
There’s more to it, but that’s the main gist of the plot required to understand the second one. It’s really not complicated at all but it has stupidity in spades.
The Kissing Booth 2 features (you guessed it) another kissing-booth fundraiser, but that surprisingly takes a backseat to the rest of the “plot”, including new love interests, a dance competition, and a lot of tenuous conveniences that manage to create drama out of assumptions with no foundation.
A little disclaimer, this is a Netflix rom-com sequel to a critically-panned but widely viewed movie, this movie was not created for serious criticism to be applied to it.
My first bout of praise goes to managing to adopt the same tones as were present in the first one, but somehow adding a little maturity to it. I mean, it wasn’t difficult as the films have a group of popular, gossipy stereotypes literally called “The OMGs”, but it was appreciated nonetheless. Even a year older, Elle’s problems do seem a little more adult here without completely eradicating the feeling of juvenile euphoria that the first movie created.
The film mainly covers Elle and Noah’s long-distance relationship, with subplots handling Elle and Lee’s friendship and the impact that has on Lee’s new relationship. Nothing groundbreaking, but it holds up a little better than its predecessor.
The script is honestly still absolutely baffling as a piece of writing. The characters have consistently, but very little depth. Aside from her boy problems, the film washes over every other issue in Elle’s life as though it’s secondary, including a could-have-been-refreshing inclusion about the financial toll of applying to colleges and how that affects her future. But an audience isn’t here for that kind of character-focused drama. We want the heartthrobs, the embarrassing falls, the teenage nostalgia of believing everything revolves around you and your relationships. Because, at that age, it does.
Our usual cast of characters are back, and this time with even lesser depth than before! You didn’t think that was possible, did you? Well, it is! Our hero and protagonist, Elle, is the CEO of making bad decisions without having all the information, and also the CEO of omitting the truth to those closest to her and then acting surprised when those choices have consequences. A lot to juggle, right? That’s why this movie is two hours, ten minutes long. You read that correctly.
A newly-minted Harvard student, our dashing Noah Flynn also makes a return, all the way across the country from his girlfriend. He also makes some terrible choices, but he’s probably the most likeable of the returning characters here, mostly making an effort to maintain his relationship and reassuring his wildly insecure and paranoid girlfriend that he loves her and only her. His younger brother, however? He does not get off so scot-free in this movie.
Lee is constantly making the worst choices imaginable, lying to everyone about everything and then having the audacity to play at being the scorned party in almost every situation. I suppose on the surface he’s a good friend, but he’s a horrible boyfriend and Rachel deserves better. Please don’t confuse that with actual investment in these characters, because there’s virtually nothing to grab onto.
But breathing a hurricane of fresh air into this sequel is Marco, who has all the attributes of Netflix’s new heartthrob of the month. Marco is attractive, multi-talented, and actually a decent person unlike most of these tyrants. Why he would feel pulled towards Elle is anyone’s guess, and he is also someone that deserves better. I won’t say what his arc entails because it’s painfully obvious, just like every single plot beat in this movie. You can guess everything from the first ten minutes if you’ve ever seen any other movie before.
I will say that the cast are doing the best they can with the material they are working with. Joey King continues to eat up every inch of the screen (whether that’s a good thing I’ve yet to confirm) but I just hope she’s being paid the big bucks for these movies. As The Act showed up, she is genuinely talented, and this is not deserving of her. I can’t say the same for poor Joel Courtney, who just has no vitality to him at all, which is one the thing that keeps King afloat in these movies. She has the goofy energetic charisma that he seems to lack. Then again, Lee is as charismatic as a dead fish, so I’m not putting the blame totally on him for that one.
Coming off the back of his seriously impressive performance on HBO’s Euphoria is Jacob Elordi (Noah), who honestly doesn’t have a lot to do in this movie aside from numerous phone calls and patient reassurances. Remember how in Twilight: New Moon Edward was in all of the promotional material but missing for a good chunk of the movie? That’s sort of the issue here: Noah is away at Harvard (no matter how many times I say it, it’s still inexplicable) and the narrative is mostly following Elle, so the problem persists. Elordi does what he can, but there’s not a lot of wiggle room to dive into any character work, so there’s not much to be done.
The newcomers, Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Chloe) and Taylor Perez (Marco) do add something good to the cast. Their characters are quite one-note as expected, but it’s nice to have some new blood in a herd of consistently frustrating characters. Chloe has a pretty major personality change about halfway through that still makes no sense, but Marco is pretty consistent in his characterisation, and Perez has such a boyish charisma that it works in his favour.
Undoubtedly, comparisons will be made to Netflix’s other sequel this year, To All The Boys: PS I Still Love You due to their many similarities in plot progression. Just as with that sequel, the new love interest is the most interesting part of it. Jordan Fisher’s John-Ambrose was the highlight for many, and I have a feeling that Marco will be going the same route. Comparisons are inevitable as both movies are horrible, but immensely watchable. The Kissing Booth 2 is perfect viewing for sleepovers, and there are several drinking games that can be manufactured to create maximum enjoyment. Take a shot every time you want Elle Evans to shut her mouth and you’ll be drunk very quickly.
As much as I’ve trashed this movie so far, it was a great viewing experience, mostly because of how predictable it is. It’s good fun and has a lot of energy, which I think is something we all need right now. Wait, am I really saying that The Kissing Booth 2 is the remedy for the collective depression the world has fallen into? I think so. Elle Evans will defeat COVID-19.
I just know that I’m going to watch this several times down the road with my friends as something to entertain us, so Netflix is definitely doing something right with these movies. Spending 4 hours watching these movies honestly isn’t the worst thing you could be doing with your time, as long as you’re prepared for the insanity that is about to greet you.
The sequel has some fun throwbacks to the original, including the expansion of a passing LGBT storyline from the first. While not entirely satisfying due to its enormously cliched content and also the bare minimum for representation, sequences like that will always put a smile on my face. Netflix really knows how to win me over.
If you feel like checking it out, you definitely should. Honestly, you don’t even need to watch the first one if you don’t want to, you should pick things up quite quickly.
Have thoughts about this movie? Feel free to comment them below! Who knows, maybe a semiotic analysis of The Kissing Booth 2 is something my life is sorely missing?
As always, keep safe and happy watching everyone!