In the first fillm, Elle (Joey King) confronted her crush Noah (Jacob Elordi) at a kissing booth, which was awkward because Noah just happened to be the older brother of her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney), and according to the strict rules of their friendship pact, siblings were off limits. But the heart wants what it wants, sparks flew, and Elle and Noah spent a glorious, loved up summer together, before he headed off to college.
Now Elle’s starting her senior year of high school while juggling a long distance relationship which everyone else basically assumes means break up. Even Noah is feeling a bit neglected because of Elle’s misguided attempt to give him “space.” In fact, Noah wants just the opposite, encouraging Elle to apply to schools near him despite the fact that the Elle and Lee Friendship Pact also states that best friends should go to the same school, and that’s on a whole other coast.
Don’t worry, there are going to plenty of harmless, G-rated shenanigans: a series of games that until now I’d assumed only got played at church picnics, vying to be top score at an arcade even though it’s 2020, accidentally describing walking thirst trap Marco in excruciating detail over the school PA system – just your typical modern day high school antics.
I didn’t really care for the first movie and I didn’t expect much from this one either. Nor did I get it, to be honest. It is what it is: a sweet teeny bopper romance for the tween market. But it’s also a reminder of how much we ask of kids – kids who are still dressing up for Halloween! They have to predict what they’ll be happy doing for the rest of their lives, what the future job market will look like, whether their love can withstand the strain of distance and temptation, where to relocate geographically, and how much debt to cripple themselves with long-term, assuming they won’t be totally priced out of home ownership, and the institution of marriage still exists, and the gig economy hasn’t imploded any hope of insurance, and there’s still a planet healthy enough to withstand a generation after theirs. No pressure though, right? We definitely feel comfortable saddling 17 year-olds with these decisions? The exact same 17 year olds who thought they could solve the bulk of their problems with a Dance Dance Revolution tournament? Cool cool.
No hate for The Kissing Booth 2. It obviously has an audience, and its audience will find it without my intervention. Every generation needs its cheesy romances, and I’ve almost made my peace with that. Am I thrilled with this movie? Not even close. But it wasn’t made for me. Perhaps it was made for you. Or perhaps it’s not a perfect fit exactly but you’re looking for something undemanding and inoffensive. This’ll do. And maybe while we’re at it, this review will convince you I’ve matured, I’m mending my asshole ways, I’m more open and forgiving. It’s total horseshit of course. I suspect the truth is that COVID-19 has deadened me. It has decimated the movie industry and with so few options, it’s hard to completely discount any of them. We’re so desperate for content we’ll watch a sequel to a movie we couldn’t stand the first time – in fact my review said I’d rather eat my own toenails. Yikes. And now here I am two years later, eating COVID pie. It’s not good, but it’s literally all we have.