Movie Review: The Kissing Booth (2018)

Synopsis: Elle Evans and Lee Flynn have been best friends since birth and, in the background of that relationship has always been Lee's older brother, Noah. As she enters her junior year of high school, Elle, a late bloomer, suddenly begins attracting attention from the guys only to find out Noah has been keeping them from asking her out. When she and Noah share a kiss at the school carnival kissing booth, they realize they have feelings for each other. There's just one problem, one of the "rules" of her friendship with Lee is they can't date each other's relatives and, when he finds out, it puts that friendship in jeopardy.

Who's in it? The movie stars Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Jessica Sutton and Bianca Bosch.

Review: My wife and I ended up putting this movie on last night mostly because it was something she said she was interested in seeing and, while I wasn't as enthused about it, I didn't want to spend half the night trying to find something else.

The film's premise, admittedly, was somewhat interesting. Normally, you would expect two best friends of the opposite sex to develop secret feelings for each other in a movie like this. But, that, at no point, was that the case with this film. Lee (Courtney) and Elle (Joey) were perfectly platonic best friends who were free to date and fall in love with other people, just as long as one of those people didn't happen to be Noah (Elordi). And, as a result of this, the movie did prove to be much less predictable than most movies in this genre.

I'm also willing to admit the film had some pretty funny moments as well. Her arriving to school in the first part of the movie wearing a skirt that she had outgrown over the summer was funny to watch, as were some of her methods of hiding her relationship with Noah.

That being said, my biggest problem with this film, other than the usual "dad" objection to teenagers getting drunk, performing drunken strip teases and having sex, is I think the writers made a big mistake when they made this a romantic comedy.

The biggest thing that stood out for me when I watched this movie was Noah's anger issues. This wasn't a minor thing either. The other guys at the school did what he said because they were legitimately afraid of him. Not to mention, when Elle gets a cut on her face, the first reaction to it was "did Noah hit you?" That, in itself, is a big red flag.

However, because this was a romantic comedy, his anger problems are largely glossed over. This, to me at least, was a mistake and I think the movie would have been considerably better if the writers would have taken full advantage of it, even though it would mean the movie would have to be much more dramatic as a result.

Making this a drama (or thriller for that matter) would also have allowed the filmmakers to explore her relationship with Lee a little better. Despite the best efforts to claim otherwise, I'm just not convinced he didn't have some romantic feelings for her, especially since, once she started dating Noah, Lee became almost possessive (despite having a girlfriend). 

Perhaps the anger issues are a family trait and he has the potential to be just as dangerous as his brother. Or, maybe he never made a move because Noah threatened him too and now he is fearful for her life. Those are the types of things you just can't get into when you're worried about making people laugh.

Final Opinion: As I said before, I didn't hate this movie. I do, however, think it would have been considerably better if it were filmed with a different genre in mind.

My Grade: C


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