The end is finally here. Netflix dropped the third part of the self-proclaimed saga The Kissing Booth on Wednesday.
Picking up from where the previous film ended, the main plot yet again focuses on protagonist Elle Evans (Joey King), who has finally finished high school. Over an extended summer break, Elle and her friends find themselves at a large ocean-front mansion.
Although there is a change in setting from the high school town in the previous two films, Kissing Booth 3 has not come with any change in storyline. Once again, Elle must choose between her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) and her boyfriend Noah (Jacob Elordi), who happen to be brothers. This time though, the predicament lies in who she goes to college with.
It does not help that both men are extremely entitled and expect to be her first choice. To make matters more complicated (and frustrating for viewers), Elle’s former romantic interest Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez) is also present. And she finds it difficult to accept her father’s new girlfriend.
The plot of the film, directed by Vince Marcello, is a mess. But it is even more difficult for the audience to sympathise with Elle’s aforementioned problems when she spends most of her time on Californian white-sand beaches, attending huge parties.
As if the plot was not dull enough, she also finds it difficult to follow the juvenile set of friendship rules that she and Lee created when they were children. This ironclad list of rules governs their friendship and if one of them breaks a rule, it is considered a huge betrayal. With rules like “Always go to the same school as your bestie” and “Relatives of your bestie are off-limits,” it is frankly shocking that three films revolve around this list.
The film’s visuals are no better. Most of the backgrounds are obviously green screens making the scenes featuring the Hollywood sign and the kissing booth look unnatural.
The movie also has endless montages. We have to sit through countless shots of Lee and Elle ticking off things from their summer bucket list. From cliff diving and flash mobs to a ridiculous Mario Kart-themed Go-Kart race, the activities, unlike our patience, never run out. The already non-existent plot is stretched thinner with these scenes.
As a genre, teenage comedies are not necessarily ground-breaking. But they can be fun to watch. From the greats like Clueless and 10 things I Hate About You to contemporary examples like The Duff and Love, Simon, these films showcase romantic relationships, friendships, and even identity crises in a manner that is enjoyable and believable.
This film, however, has no memorable moments. Instead, it is filled with clichés: Noah’s insecurity with Marco culminates in them throwing hands and there are games that quickly become an excuse to show off each other’s (toxic) masculinity. This becomes more tiresome when it dawns upon you that versions of these scenes recur in all three films. At this point, the movie begins to feel like an extension of its predecessors rather than a sequel with an actual story.
To its credit, The Kissing Booth 3 does try to redeem itself towards the end. Elle slowly decides to put herself first and not base her decisions on the men in her life. But her decision comes two films too late. Having spent three entire movies dealing with the same exact situation, her realisation is not nearly as satisfying as it intends to be.
In the end, The Kissing Booth 3 does very little to make its mark and is yet another reminder that the ‘saga’ should have ended after the first film.