Have I seen it: Yes!
What IMDb says: A high school student is forced to confront her secret crush at a kissing booth.
– At least one comedy
– At least one movie about kids in high school
Why I picked it: I had actually already watched this movie when I was in a fun romcom mood a week ago and was pleasantly surprised by it. 30 Movies in 30 Days presented a great opportunity to share my thoughts with the rest of you.
What I liked about it: The brilliance of The Kissing Booth lies in its ability to embrace the tropes of the genre while somehow subtly rebelling against them at the same time.
Elle is best friends with the dorky but lovable Lee and has been since birth. However, she finds herself attracted to Lee’s older brother Noah, who is strictly off limits. I went into this movie prepared for Elle and Lee to realize that they belonged together this whole time. Not necessarily because anything in this movie specifically told me that, but because it’s the kinda cliche ending that Hollywood likes.
And indeed, The Kissing Booth rightfully takes time to get us invested in the platonic friendship between Elle and Lee before seriously exploring the potential of an Elle/Noah romance. These are two friends who aren’t afraid to say “I love you” to each other; We see them playfully throwing paint at each other; We see Lee give Elle the “that guy is an idiot if he doesn’t see how awesome you are” pep talk before her first date.
All this serves two crucial purposes. Firstly, it helps keep us guessing about which brother Elle might ultimately end up with. Secondly, it gives us a better understanding of what exactly Elle is risking if she decides to pursue Noah. As screenwriters are fond of saying, it raises the stakes.
Another crucial ingredient in this movie is the character of Noah, wonderfully portrayed by Jacob Elordi. In many ways, he is also a walking collection of cliches. He’s gorgeous. He plays football. He wears leather jackets. He rides a motorcycle. He’s constantly making out with chicks but is never in a steady relationship. He’s a character we’ve seen thousands of times before.
Yet he’s not blatantly rude or rebellious like Bender from The Breakfast Club. He never does anything quite as deceptive or conniving as taking money to date someone a la Patrick Verona in 10 Things I Hate About You or dating someone just to win a bet a la Zack Siler in She’s All That. He never quite crosses the line into being a full-on asshole so that we hate him, or hate Elle for liking him. He might dance dangerously close to it at times, but never quite gets there.
For example, at one point he chooses to stop making out with a girl after she’s rude to Elle. While he does say Elle was “asking for it” when she is sexually assaulted after she wears a skirt that’s too small on her, he’s still smart enough to quickly backpedal and say “I just played out the whole sexist conversation in my head and it always ended with me sounding like a dick.” While his go-to means of conflict resolution is to beat people up, we at least get a moment later in the movie where he acknowledges that this isn’t healthy. Noah is a modernized version of a familiar trope that we can fall in love with partially because he reminds us of so many other characters we’ve fallen for before without making all the same mistakes they did.
What I didn’t like about it: The movie is INCREDIBLY reliant on voiceover for exposition which always rubs me the wrong way. While it works to a certain extent to give us necessary details really quickly at the beginning of the movie, we also get voiceover throughout, sometimes explaining things we could easily infer on our own. For example, Elle uses voiceover to tell us that Noah/Lee’s mom is like a surrogate mom to her, something the audience could easily figure out given that we know this woman is her mom’s BFF and that Elle and Lee were raised like they were twins (also, ya know, the way Elle interacts with this character).
Would I watch it again: I mean it came out less than a month ago and I’ve already watched it twice, which says something. While I get that The Kissing Booth is a certain type of movie that isn’t going to appeal to everyone, it is the kind of movie I can see myself watching over and over again. It just makes me feel good. If you’re a fan of the genre and looking for something that feels like a fresher version of the ’90s teen romcoms you enjoyed when you were younger, The Kissing Booth is totally worth a try.