The Kissing Booth is a teen romance about a girl, her best friend (a guy) and his brother. Elle (Joey King) has been Lee Flynn’s (Joel Courtney) best friend since they were babies (their mothers were best friends). They created all sorts of rules about their friendship when they were little. One of the rules was that Lee’s older brother, Noah (Jacob Elordi), is off-limits. All that changes with an encounter in the school fund-raiser kissing booth. This Netflix original production debuted in 2018 and is rated PG-13.
I always like when stars of the 80’s and 90’s make an appearance in these movies. This one has one of the biggest gets ever – Molly Ringwald!!! My only complaint is that they didn’t give her much to do.
A small aside – if you like podcasts, you should check out The Moth episode where Molly tells a story about getting called into the principal’s office about her daughter. It’s vulnerable and heart-touching. Here’s the info: https://themoth.org/storytellers/molly-ringwald
NOTE: Only Fiona (the teen) and I watched this one, with my husband as a “guest viewer”. It must be noted that he was filling this role somewhat unwillingly.
The “It” Factor ❤️❤️💔
Fiona saw the ads on Netflix and suggested that this be our next movie to watch together. Since I noted that queen of romantic teen movies of my generation, Molly Ringwald, is in it, I agreed. We started off thinking this movie had all the feels. The couple had good chemistry, and the premise is fun. The “rules’ for the friendship between Elle and Lee are cute and believable. However, this movie didn’t quite match up with how it was presented in the promotional materials, so it didn’t meet our expectations which resulted in the low rating. I’ll explain more about this in the Ewwww section.
“Him is So Handsome” Factor ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
There is no denying that Noah Flynn (Jacob Elordi) is a hotty. The Teen in particularly was swooning over him. He spends a lot of time in this movie with his shirt off, which might account for this movie’s trending status on Netflix. Even the best friend/little brother (Joel Courtney) is a cutey. Adding to the appeal of Noah is the fact that the actors playing Noah and Elle became a couple in real life. Kinda like Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens did in High School Musical. Hmmm, I am really beginning to see why my Teen was so attracted to this movie, as Zac Efron was the original “Him is so Handsome”…
The Overarching Tropes – All the clichés
✔️ Forbidden Love – Elle has a long-standing secret crush on the off-limits older brother.
✔️ Dead Mother – Yep, this one too. Seriously, Hollywood is tough on the mothers. This is not really a spoiler alert, as they reveal the fact that Elle’s mother died with the opening credits.
✔️ Motorcycle riding, fist fighting alpha male bad boy.
The EWWWWW factor 💔 (Spoiler Alert – although the predictability of a romance kinda precludes a spoiler alert, but anyhoo here it is).
First, it should be noted that I watched this movie with a newly minted teen – she just turned 13 in May, and really didn’t want to be a teen. That’s to say that I am watching this film with someone who is still fairly innocent. The ewww factor might be less intense if you are watching with an older, more mature teen.
So, we are watching the movie and all is going along fine, until it isn’t. There is a scene where Lee and his brother throw a party and Elle, drunk, gets up on a table to dance and decides she is too hot and starts taking off her clothes. Neither brother does anything to stop her. Aren’t they her friends? I can get over that scene as it can be a good conversation starter about what NOT to do, but it did bother me that neither one stepped up.
There is also a montage of Elle and Noah hooking up. The intimacy is mostly off camera and we don’t see much more than him without a shirt and her in a bra. They also show her buying condoms. I guess kudos to them for portraying safe sex, but there was an ewww factor watching it with my husband and 13 year old. I am not sure she was even paying attention to that part, as her head was in her phone, and she was annoyed that her father wanted to turn off the movie then. Or maybe she didn’t understand what Elle was buying, or maybe we are all in denial – I am not sure.
But the scene we could not get past is when Lee discovers the secret relationship between Noah and Elle. This sequence of scenes doesn’t at all feel like the rom-com Netflix promoted this movie to be. The two brothers talk about Elle while barely acknowledging her presence. Then Lee asks if they have been together, and uses the f-word. A fairly violent fight breaks out between the brothers that seemed outside the context of the sibling rivalry between them, and completely unnecessary. We exercised our parental guidance and turned the movie off at this point.
These scenes are jarring and don’t fit the tone or feel of the rest of the movie. There are better ways this could have been handled that would have shown more character depth and growth. When the teen was gone, I went back to finish the movie, because I was curious about how they recovered from this section. The film, oddly, just went back into teen rom-com mode, with a lot of brooding until the romance was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. I am disappointed Netflix, I expected better of you.
The Bechdel-Wallace Test: ❤️
It barely passed, but it did. There is a brief moment when Elle and Mrs. Flynn (the mother of Lee and Noah) discuss school.