Bad Netflix originals are not a rarity at this point. However, sometimes it’s a headscratcher when a series becomes popular to the mass audience, which is where The Kissing Booth comes in. Granted, the first film is based on a young adult novel from author Beth Reekles so I understand the fanbase behind the movie; however, The Kissing Booth is a horrible trilogy. The Netflix exclusive centers around Elle, a high school student who deals with life, love, and a kissing booth that kicks a whirlwind romances. A big disclaimer, this type of movie isn’t my cup of tea. I understand that I’m not the targeted demographic for The Kissing Booth; however, I can recognize a good movie. Perhaps I don’t get the appeal of movies glamorizing toxic relationships as Noah and Elle should not be together. Noah is a controlling, womanizing d*****bag who seriously needs some counseling. Oh, and Elle is by no means a better character. One of the worst things about her is that she’s extremely hypocritical. In the second film, Elle gets extremely mad when she sees another woman in Noah’s dorm room. Granted, the film is playing off Noah’s womanizing history to cast doubt on whether he’s being faithful or not; however, the issues come in the form of Marco, who is essentially the perfect man in this entire series. He’s tall, he’s handsome, and he can wear the hell out of a Wario costume! Of course, there’s a developing romance between Elle and Marco, which also sees the titular character kiss the lover boy at one point. This is all in the same movie. Elle comes across as a delusional girl who isn’t self-aware of most of the situations around her. She is constantly upset at Noah because of his past, yet she doesn’t seem to get that she’s no better by leading on Marco. However, she’s actually not the worst character in the film. That’s her bestie, Lee Flynn.
Oddly, the two best friends came up with a set of strict rules that they must abide by at a very young age. Anytime Elle breaks one of these rules, Lee becomes a penchant child and bitches about Elle not being a good friend. In the first movie, Lee blows a gasket when he finds out that Elle is interested in her cousin Noah. In the second film, he’s constantly moaning and whining that Elle isn’t spending time with him, even though he’s purposely neglecting his own girlfriend! And in the third, he chastises and guilts Elle into trying to apply to the University of Southern California. In fact, he blows up at her when he finds out that she applied to several different colleges. Lee is actually worse than Noah. In a sad way, you understand why she’s into Noah and his toxic behavior because her best friend is a selfish asshole. These “rules” that they created at six are incredibly stupid. Unfortunately, Elle never points this out nor does she ever snap at Lee’s constant temper tantrums. The Kissing Booth often feels directionless, thus the likely reasoning why they came up with this asinine conflict between Elle and Lee. No best friend would do what Elle’s done in the series. In fact, someone with actual backbone would’ve called him out for his whiny crap a long time ago. The series is classified as a romantic comedy, but that feels like an actual insult to the genre itself. It relies on the classic genre tropes, but it never has anything new or interesting to say. Plus, the series doesn’t even know how to do the classic genre tropes right!
The sequels are worse because they ultimately feel pointless. Marco is clearly the right guy for Elle, yet the fact that she would stay with such a toxic figure makes her character look even worse than she already does. Part II feels like it exists purely for money. The writers didn’t know how to particularly incite a meaningful conflict and the film is a jumbled mess because of it. Elle does have a right to be angry about the Chloe and Noah situation because the film tries way too damn hard to trick you into believing that Noah is back to his old ways that their friendship seems sexual. As I previously mentioned, Elle is ultimately a hypocrite because she is flirting with Marco. Part III wraps up the series, which gives it some meaning; however, the fact that the major conflict is whether Elle will go to Berkley or Harvard falls extremely flat. Both Lee and Noah are still bad characters at this point, so we don’t want Elle to go towards either one of them; however, Elle remains extremely bland and passive. The decisions she makes are based on what other people are doing. Hell, it’s not revealed until nearly the end of the film that Elle actual wants to pursue gaming as her career. The Kissing Booth is the very definition of a cash grab. The films are terribly bad, with horrendous characters, non-sensical plotting, and a pedestrian script.