It’s probably best not to sit and watch insecurity-inducing content in quarantine, but I’m a sucker for a mindless, romantic movie. The Kissing Booth 2 is just that. While everything’s pretty, this Netflix film is as flawed and unrealistic as Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Here’s a sneak peek as to why- there are a few spoilers, but that doesn’t matter. There isn’t much that could ruin the movie for you that isn’t actually in it.

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Let’s start by summarising the plot. Elle (Joey King), the protagonist, is a high school senior who is in a happy, trusting long-distance relationship with her excessively hot boyfriend, Noah (Jacob Elordi) who goes to Harvard. In the first movie, she wrestles with this relationship as it is against her pact with her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney), who is also Noah’s younger brother.

All is well and perfectly tanned until she starts to annoy Lee’s girlfriend, Rachel, by monopolising time with him while simultaneously plotting to break another pact of theirs- the besties have always dreamt of attending UC Berkeley together, but she starts considering Harvard instead, so she can be with Noah. Meanwhile, she is tempted to cheat with hot senior Marco (paralleled by Noah’s British classmate Chloe) and struggles with time zone differences and class schedules to keep her relationship from falling apart.

Over the entire course of the film, instead of showing the impact of these dilemmas or the characters solving them, writer-director Vince Marcello simply reiterates the issues incessantly- there’s nothing in the reel that the trailer and promos didn’t tell me. There’s no resolution even at the very end- just an illusion of a happy and upbeat vibe. While there could’ve been one clear-cut climax, there are three: the eponymous kissing booth itself, the homecoming and the dance competition- but none are conclusive. There are some redeeming factors of course-  Elle’s character arc improves with her commitment in a healthy relationship and Lee stops being so damn annoying. The film is funny in parts, like when Rachel dishes out ultimatums to Lee while dressed like dessert. The writers have also avoided pitting the female characters against each other.

While it’s a nice touch, it’s also evidently deliberate and doesn’t make up for the poor execution of a lame script. There is a subplot revolving around an LGBTQ+ couple- Ollie (Judd Krok) who crushes on student-body president Miles (Evan Hengst). The desperate attempt to appear ‘woke’ is obvious, even if the actors perform well enough to fool anyone who didn’t watch the first one or is blown away by King’s energy and screen presence.

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The film is a rip-off of its predecessor in every way. Patrick Kirst, the composer, builds on his original themes, ostensibly to refamiliarise viewers with the characters’ world. The extremely attractive actors are better looking than any real-life high schoolers, and cinematographer Anastas Michos uses top-notch light to make sure we don’t forget it. While these transgressions are forgivable, what I personally despised was the idea that two people who seem to disregard academics at all times and have an STD risk as their only extracurricular, got into Harvard and UC Berkeley.

Jacob Elordi is really hot, but I doubt his alumni interviewer was so blown away that he just admitted him to the most selective university on the planet with a blank resume. Also, in real life school uniforms in ANY country don’t have the same pattern and amount of fabric as table napkins. Just saying. Should you watch it? Absolutely. We’re running out of things to rant about while FaceTiming, and this will do just fine. After all, you’re never getting those 130 minutes of your life back after watching The Kissing Booth 2.

Image Credit: YouTube screenshot

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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