Friday, July 24

The Kissing Booth 2 Review

Kissing Booth 2
Dir: Vince Marcello
Starring: Joey King, Jacob Elordi, Joel Courtney, Taylor Zakhar Perez, Meganne Young, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, and Molly Ringwald

Film has painted the high school drama in many ever-changing strokes of emotions. While the stories today may not echo the same world settled in the visions of John Hughes, the underlying conflicts for young people are still present and far more complicated. Experiencing the many facets of love, making choices both confident and vulnerable, and finding the person you want to be past those fleeting moments inside the safety of the high school halls are still valuable lessons to explore.

“The Kissing Booth” is back to explore more of these teenage issues with a heavy scope of sappiness and slapstick. However, for Elle (Joey King), who just had the best summer of her life with her new beau Noah (Jacob Elordi), high school senior year is complicated by having to prepare for college, balance a changing relationship with her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) and his new girlfriend Rachel (Meganne Young), and handle the strains of long-distance love while Noah goes to school across the country at Harvard. 

It doesn’t take long for the drama of these feelings to take hold. As the strain on the relationships in Elle’s life take hold, with a girl named Chloe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) garnering much of Noah’s attention in college and a new boy at school named Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez) strumming his way into a partnership with Elle for a dance competition, everything gets complicated and confusing, both for the characters in the film and the viewers at home.

There is so much going on in “The Kissing Booth 2” that even with a 2 hour and 10-minute running time, it still feels overstuffed with rambling premises. We have evolving character development from the first film, new characters to meet and insert into the storyline, side stories to explore with supplemental characters, a video game-dance competition, a Halloween school dance where tempers flare, and a heated Thanksgiving dinner where all the held back words are unleashed. We move from happy, quickly edited montages of fun and silliness to sad, long cuts of characters gazing into the sadness of their counterpart’s social media on cellphones, back and forth, over and over. 

With so much being packed into the narrative suitcase, it’s strange that the movie still feels so empty. The safety-net storytelling, where characters fall but not too hard or complications arise but nothing a perfectly timed pop song can’t resolve, becomes overwhelmingly contrived and extremely predictably. 

Character growth is so important for sequels, especially in matters of youth where growth happens at exponential speed. The characters here rarely have those moments of maturity, forced or otherwise, that happens in films like this. The harshest reality that exists in this film boils down to Elle having to decide where to go to college. Does her allegiance align with her boyfriend or her best friend? This question is proposed early then completely disappears, only to arrive at the tail end of the film for a resolve that can only be described as a “cop-out”.

Still, there is a charm and sweetness achieved with “The Kissing Booth 2”, one that is often preferred for many movie watchers perhaps especially during this time in our world. Joey King and Joel Courtney accomplish impressive chemistry as best friends throughout the film, with Mr. Courtney going full throttle with the slapstick elements in a scene that finds him rushing across school campus to protect his best friend from embarrassment. It’s funny and cute, one of those scenes that always seems fitting in a school daze comedy. Joey King has an abundance of charm, her performance is a major highlight of the movie. The rare appearance from parental figure Molly Ringwald, playing Lee and Noah’s mom, floods nostalgia into the film from the 80’s films that laid the groundwork for the teen drama. 

“The Kissing Booth 2” will definitely appeal to some viewers looking for an easy and safe escape into a teen universe that is rarely threatening and often more concerned with sweet and silly sentiments of youthful exuberance. However, the lack of exploration into the real complications and struggles faced by young people keeps this film from being much more than a fleeting moment in the hallways of teen movies. 

Monte’s Rating
2.00 out of 5.00

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