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The Kissing Booth 2 (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 28, 2020


Starring Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Taylor Zakhar Perez, Meganne Young, Molly Ringwald, Judd Krok, Evan Hengst, Stephen Jennings, Carson White, Morné Visse, Frances Sholto-Douglas, Camilla Wolfson, Zandile Madliwa, Bianca Bosch, Sanda Shandu and Hilton Pelser.

Screenplay by Vince Marcello and Jay S. Arnold.

Directed by Vince Marcello.

Distributed by Netflix. 130 minutes. Rated TV-14.

A couple of years ago, on a whim, I watched the Netflix romantic teen comedy The Kissing Booth. I knew that I was far from the movie’s demographic, but I’m a fan of Joey King – I had interviewed her a few years before – and it looked like a nice enough film.

As I recall, I rather enjoyed it. I say as I recall, because to be perfectly honest I haven’t given the movie much thought since then and two years later I can barely remember what happened in it. However, I do remember it being a light and pretty charming high school romance and worth the watch. I also remember that it was extremely popular.

Therefore, when I heard The Kissing Booth 2 was coming, I was like, sure. The first one was cute. I’ll give it a shot. How bad can it be?

Wow. Famous last words.

The Kissing Booth 2 is not exactly poorly made, per se, and Joey King is still mostly likable in the lead role, even though her character has become sort of annoying. However, The Kissing Booth 2 is a lightweight teen rom com which runs for over two hours. (Over two hours! Do they think this is a Scorsese film?) It is insanely overstuffed with characters who are constantly doing the exact wrong thing and has tons of ridiculous plot points that seem to exist only to cause conflict.

And, for the record, the kissing booth in the title just barely appears in this film, though there is way, way too much time spent on a video-game dance contest.

The Kissing Booth 2 – and its lead characters – is much goofier and at the same time much more morose than I remember the first one being. It revolves around hackneyed plot devices like someone mistakenly saying something completely inappropriate (and honestly completely out of character) without realizing that it was being broadcast on the high school PA system so that everyone, but everyone, gets to hear it. And not just one thing, a whole series of things, one more ludicrous than the other.

Then, there is barely any payoff to that corny stunt; it doesn’t seem to overly embarrass the person who did it, at least not for more than a few minutes. It does not overly affect the relationship between the person on the PA and the person she was talking about.

It was just there to open a tiny bit of conflict when none was needed. And The Kissing Booth 2 is nothing but unnecessary conflict. Relationships, friendships, jealousy, college placement, holidays, love triangles, money problems, homosexuality, family issues, popularity, loneliness, distrust, school politics, sexual questioning, misunderstandings; they are all present and accounted for, which is probably why this film lasts for that interminable 130 minutes.

By the way, no matter how much this used to be a romantic comedy staple, it’s been about two decades since you have been able to rush to the airport to stop your love from flying away, run up the stairs and actually make it up to the gate to profess your love. TSA would have taken her out long before she made it up there.

Then, to make sure that we know we’ve just watched a bad film, The Kissing Booth 2 resurrects that cheesy practice of showing goofy bloopers and outtakes during the closing credits. That was a sure sign of a crappy movie 10-20 years ago, when the style was briefly in vogue. All these years later, it just feels like more of the flop sweat that covers this whole disappointing sequel.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2020 All rights reserved. Posted: July 25, 2020.

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