31st Jul2020

‘The Kissing Booth 2’ Review (Netflix)

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Molly Ringwald, Taylor Zakhar Perez, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Meganne Young, Stephen Jennings, Carson White, Bianca Bosch, Camilla Wolfson, Zandile-Izandi Madliwa, Judd Krok | Written by Vince Marcello, Jay S Arnold | Directed by Vince Marcello

The Kissing Booth landed on Netflix in the Summer of 2018 to fanfare from those it was aimed at, with many enjoying it’s simplistically sweet high-school love story and characters who had a chemistry that pushed it up a touch. I mean… I’m a 30-something guy who tends to veer towards Amelie, Before Sunrise or True Romance for my love stories, so it wasn’t really my bag, but I didn’t expect it to be. I’m not the general demographic for The Kissing Booth. I’m okay with that. So… when the sequel hatched from the egg of uncertainty a week or two back, and my better-half decided she wanted to give it a spin, I sat and watched too, because… why not?

The Kissing Booth 2 is, like the first movie, written and directed by Vince Marello and stars many of the same cast who took the original to successful heights a couple of years ago. Joey King (The Conjuring, Slender Man) reprises her role as Elle, the confused girl who struggles with her position in life, love and everything in-between. Joel Courtney (Super 8) returns as Elle’s best buddy Lee. Jacob Elordi comes back as Elle’s boyfriend Noah. We also have Molly Ringwald making a few appearances again as Lee and Noah’s Mom. Then there’s new characters such as Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals) as Chloe, Noah’s new friend on the scene who makes Elle very jealous by simply being pretty and standing near her boytoy. New school heart-throb Marco debuts, played by Taylor Zakhar Perez (Embeds). So, it’s old and new, with other side-characters back in the saddle, with some new additions to mix things up. It’s what you’d expect from a quick-fire sequel.

So, the performances here are identical to the first movie. They’re fine. No-one stands out as being particularly poor, although I’ve always, in every movie I’ve seen her in, struggled with Joey King being anything more than a kid. She’s meant to be a maturing young woman, but whether it’s her style as an actor, or the characters she always plays, she comes off as immature, irritating and selfish most of the time. Joey King may not be those things, but she damn sure seems to play those traits a lot. The story, which picks up from the previous film, follows Elle dealing with her fella Noah being away at college. He has a life away from her now, with classes, a new bed in a new place and… some new friends. One of those friends is Chloe, a mature-acting woman who is friendly to everybody she encounters, including Elle, and seems confident and happy. Of course Elle hates her immediately and thinks she’s knocking-boots with Noah. Drama ensues.

On the other end of the story, Lee and Rachel (Meganne Young) are struggling to find symbiosis in their relationship due to Elle constantly being there. Rachel, who wants to have some alone-time with her blokey, is getting increasingly agitated by Lee’s best friend being with them at all times. Drama ensues.

Oh, and Elle meets Marco at school, too. A popular and handsome new kid who can play guitar and sing as well as he can play sports and all the other things popular lads in high school movies do. She’s not impressed at first, but things change, and Elle develops feelings for him, while also dating Noah, whom she seemingly has no trust for anymore. Oh, and there’s a dance-contest thing too, where Marco and Elle perform together so Elle can win a prize to pay for college… but… whatever.

That’s it. That’s a nutshell of The Kissing Booth 2. Elle, this time around especially, comes off as a very self-centred and lackluster person. She’s disloyal to her boyfriend and friends, she’s rude to people who are nice to her, she doesn’t take quiet hints and generally, by the end of the film, you want her to jog on and let the rest of the characters live a happy and fulfilled life without her. It’s a shame, because you’re seemingly meant to like Elle and wish her well, but she just has so many negative moments here that she becomes way too annoying. I liked Chloe as a character, bringing some grown-up elements to things and showing that women and men can be friends without wanting to dive into the sack together.

This isn’t aimed at me. I didn’t go in here expecting to be loving this movie, but it isn’t as charming or likeable as the first one, and the whole Kissing Booth element felt shoehorned in to warrant the title. The cast are okay overall, but the writing and development of the characters, in my view anyway, did more harm than good. Oh, and there’s a third one on the way if you didn’t know. No… I’m not interested. Yes… I’ll probably watch it anyway.

** 2/5

The Kissing Booth 2 is available to watch now on Netflix.


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