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I don’t like to write scathing reviews, really I don’t. But movies like “The Kissing Booth 2” leave me absolutely no other option.
I hate to admit it, but I am a lifelong sucker for romance movies. Whether it be a classic like “How to Lose A Guy In 10 Days,” or any movie adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel like “Dear John,” I have most definitely seen it. Romance movies like these have set my dating standards unrealistically high and made me somewhat of a connoisseur of sappy love stories.
Aside from my personal guilty pleasure of romance movies, my English minor has given me a strong foundation of what makes a love story, a love story. There are certain musts: the role of vanity; juxtapositions of light and dark; good and evil; and other complexities that explore the human psyche under the influence of love. So, how on earth did we go from Chaucer and Shakespeare to “The Kissing Booth 2”? Apparently a huge regression in good-taste and the death of appreciation figurativism. But I digress.
The premise from the get-go makes no sense. I don’t know about you but I don’t think students blindly kissing each other to raise money for my high school would’ve flown in the first place. School-sanctioned make-out? I’ll pass.
The plot starts off like a trainwreck, that try as you might, you just can’t seem to take your eyes off. Joey King, as high school senior Elle Evans, misses the mark by at least a couple miles. Her desperation to seem relatable comes off as terribly obnoxious and her character is very fabricated, lacking any hint of genuineness.
It is hard to describe what makes movies set in high school captivating and what ones leave you asking what la-la-land the movie was based off of. The only conclusion I have come to is that the high school movies that effectively portray adolescence feature relaxed yet accurate costuming and set-design and an air of effortlessness in the dialogue. “The Kissing Booth 2” lacks both of those to the fullest extent.
The costuming is wildly unrealistic with the school uniforms looking like something you could buy at Halloween Alley. I fail to grasp why they are at a uniformed private school and not a single uniform is worn correctly. Loose ties, accessories, mini-skirts, gaudy jewelry, I don’t get it. The uniforms aren’t relatable to teens who went to uniformed schools and the attempt at streetwear is not representative of any kids who went to a public school. The uniforms are just the tip of the ice-berg… nothing in this movie is relatable to anybody.
The conversations among characters are robotic and unbelievably cringey to watch. There is nothing relatable about the “The Kissing Booth 2” and at only ten minutes in, I found myself dreading the remaining four stages of Freytag’s pyramid that I knew I would have to watch unfold. Sigh.
The tokenism in this film is also a detrimental setback. As white students file into the high school’s cafeteria, only one Black character makes an appearance. Representation is important, there is no other way to say it. Two white characters falling in love in the heart of suburbia is an outdated trope, setting this sequel up for failure.
And to top off the tokenism in this film, the heteronormative narrative is appauling and, again, outdated. The kissing booth, fronted by Evans and her best friend Lee Flynn (Joel Courtney), is exclusively boys kissing girls and vice versa. This left me rolling my eyes at yet another film that fails to represent the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
Additionally, the objectification of the male characters was… unsettling to say the least. Female characters talk about Evans’ boyfriend Noah Flynn (Jacob Elordi) in a grossly objectifying way, sounding more like a conversation at a butcher’s counter than a conversation between high school peers. The leaked video of Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez) working out, which was secretly filmed by some of the high school girls, left me feeling creeped out. Nobody should be exploited or sexualized unnecessarily.
So far we have tokenism, sexualization, heteronormative narrative and objectification, need I say more?
If that’s not enough let me assure you that “The Kissing Booth 2,” features some of the worst acting I have ever seen to date. King has never done it for me, she is too theatrical and gives off very surface level, swing-and-a-miss slap-stick comedy. Elordi, Perez and Courtney all follow suit with King, completely missing the mark.
Thankfully she did not stand out too much because the rest of the cast is also nearly impossible to watch. There is nothing subtle about the acting, there are no motifs, there are no genuine feelings portrayed in this film… it just lacks that punch, that spark, that flair.
Let me sum it up for you: please do not watch this movie. There is not a single sliver of hope I have for you, there is no solace or redeeming quality found in this film.
Okay, maybe I kind of, sort of, like writing scathing reviews.