Title: KISSING BOOTH (PARTS 1 AND 2)
Reviewed By: Sudheer Nekkalapudi
Cast: Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Molly Ringwald, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Taylor Zakhar Perez
Director: Vince Marcello
Streaming on: NETFLIX
Story: Childhood best buddies Shelly Evans a.k.a. Elle (Joey King) and Lee Flynn (Joel Courtney) navigate relationship hurdles, sometimes caused by their own friendship, and stand for each other when things get out of hand. Things do get messier in between when their own friendship is in trouble because Elle falls in love with Lee’s older brother, Noah (Jacob Elordi); a relation Lee doesn’t approve of. Whether their ‘Kissing Booth’ at the Annual fundraiser event succeeds and whether they will be able to ride past the speed-bumps in their love lives forms the story in both parts. Rule number 17: Always read the complete review.
Performances: Many might not remember Joey King from her limited role in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (she plays young Talia al Ghul, the child in the pit) or from her appearance in ‘The Conjuring’, but she did leave quite an impression in ‘White House Down’, in which she played the daughter of Channing Tatum. You can tell from the first frame of The Kissing Booth that she is a natural in front of the camera. Her long career at such a young age did give her the confidence to pull off this leading role with ease. Joel Courtney (Super 8 fame) also banks upon his TV experience to deliver a good performance in a role which had conflicting emotions throughout both the parts. The other actors did a decent job and no one particularly stands out. The casting was done well, especially Jacob Elordi and Taylor Perez, who were selected to be studs of the college and Elle’s love interests.
Analysis: The premise of the movie is not very different from some of the movies on friendship that came out in Telugu, such as Oh My Friend and Vasantham. The difference here is that the focus is on the girl’s life more than the boy’s side of things. In the first part we are introduced to the lead characters and the director uses plenty of screen-time to showcase how close the friendship between the lead pair is. Stereotypical characters like the OMG girls remind us that this movie is just a teen drama and it’s not trying to be pathbreaking or anything. The scenes involving the Kissing Booth are funny and evoke few laughs. The main conflict in the first part is Lee’s disapproval of the relationship between Noah and Elle. There is quite a lot of drama in the latter portion of the first part between the 3 lead characters and we are led towards a predictable ending. The second part starts with Noah in Harvard and Elle trying to figure out whether her long-distance relationship with Noah can stand the test of time. We are now introduced to the new high school stud Marco a.k.a. MVP and Chloe, the Instagram star of Harvard. The director manages to create the necessary conflict in the second part with Elle’s jealousy towards Chloe and her growing affinity for Marco when he steps up to partner with her for a dancing competition; ironically, she wants to win this competition to be able to afford her Harvard tuition. There is enough drama in the relationship of Lee and Rachel as well in this part. The ending is a cliff-hanger with Elle receiving admits from both Harvard and UC Berkeley, her and Lee’s all time dream college. Where she decides to go will most likely form the plot foundation of Part 3. Kissing Booth is used sparingly in the second part as the director force-fitted it to justify the title.
On a whole: With all of us stuck at home full-time, we keep running out of good content that we can watch. The Kissing Booth movies do provide few laughs and some drama, making them a decent watch on a lazy Saturday night.