Having devoured Netflix favourites The Kissing Booth and The Kissing Booth 2 many, many times – all for the sake of reporting thereon for this here site, of course 😉 – it’s the perfect time for a recap. Especially now that the final instalment of The Kissing Booth franchise is streaming on Netflix now. So here goes!
The Kissing Booth
When we first talked about this flick, the overarching opinion was that it was a Roller-Coaster Mix of Problematic Story Choices and Great Dollops of Super-Fun Exuberance. So pretty much a classic teen rom-com.
- High school junior Elle (played by the utterly delightful Joey King) is teen rom-com gold. She’s funny, goofy, confident and raw, a spirited ball of joy.
- It’s the start of the new school year, and our Elle is sweet late-teens and never been kissed.
- Considering the title of the flick, what are the odds this is all about to change? *eyebrow waggle*
- A labrador in human form, Lee (Joel Courtney) has been Elle’s BFF since birth. Literally. They were born to mothers who were also best friends, in the same hospital, at the same time, on the same day a teenage number of years ago.
- The casting here is *chef’s kiss*. Seriously. From their face-pulling to their secret handshakes, and their complete comfort in one another’s company, their enthusiasm is infectious.
- Does this mean we are #teamlee?
The Friendship Rules
- So, the big reason Lee and Elle have stayed super tight their whole lives is a list of Strict Rules for Best Friends, made when they were nine. Nine.
- Gotta imagine some of those rules might be starting to get a little shaky now that they are deep into the hormone years. Hmmm.
- Lee and Elle loooove to dance. The Dance Dance Mania arcade game is their forte. As – it seems – the only two members of the School Dance Crew, they have to come up with a fundraising booth for the upcoming homecoming fair.
- Um, ah … how about a KISSING BOOTH!?
- (Worth remembering this movie was made in simpler times – aka 2019, aka pre-dread virus – which makes it a whole different watching experience now!)
- The student council are all meh, till Elle promises (lying through her bright white teeth) that the uber-popular senior Noah (who is none other than Lee’s older brother) will man the booth!
The Older Brother
- Enter Noah Flynn – aka strictly forbidden in the love interest stakes as per Number 9 of the Strict Rules for Best Friends: Relatives Of Your Best Friend Are Off-Limits. (Considering Elle’s only sibling is a much younger brother, it’s safe to assume this rule only applies to Elle and Noah. Red flag to a bull, perhaps?)
- The slow-mo glistening shirtless nature of the first time we meet young Noah (played by long tall drink of Aussie water Jacob Elordi), makes it pretty clear #teamlee might soon make way for #teamnoah.
- Noah is all the teen movie hero things – tall, hot, sporty, beloved by all the swooning girls. There’s the motor bike. And he has the smug simper down pat.
- But he’s also kinda controlling. And punchy. He has a short fuse and little to no desire to control it, to the point the kid could do with a good dose of anger therapy. And while we are clearly meant to swoon for him as Elle secretly swoons, he’s a bit of a douche. Harsh? Read on.
The Kissing Booth
- So, the homecoming fair rolls around and the Kissing Booth looks like it’s gonna be a real fizzer.
- Till Lee – lovely Lee! – gets his first kiss in the kissing booth from a sweetie named Rachel. Instant Girlfriend results. Sigh …
- Then, out of nowhere, up rocks the elusive Noah, right as Elle takes her blindfolded turn at the booth. And, yep, you guessed it – they kiss! A forbidden kiss, remember, due to Rule Number 9 in the Strict Rules for Best Friends.
- Teens swoon, the camera spins, fireworks explode. Elle is smitten.
- Great girl that she is, she immediately tells Lee what happened, that it was just a kiss, so it in no way broke their rules. Only in her heart of hearts she fears it might be more than that after all. It may have been the kiss of true love.
- Does Noah feel the same? Does true love’s kiss make him see the error of his bad boy ways? Nope. He’s off flirting with another girl while Elle has her revelation. *cough* *splutter* *can’t even*
- Anyhoo, from this nexus event, the rest of the flick rockets through Elle lying to Lee as she and Noah become a secret thing, Elle falling for Noah, Noah punching on any chance he gets, Lee falling for Rachel, Rachel – very generously – not finding Elle and Lee’s reeeeallly close friendship a threat even when Lee invites Elle to go to prom with them.
- Lots of cringy vignettes more suited to an 80s teen movie than a movie of the now also ensue – Elle in too-short skirts, getting drunk and stripping at a party, and multiple excuses for her to strip to her underwear. Though, to be fair, the boys get plenty of low-slung board shorts and pool time too.
- Meanwhile, Noah continues to be tall and hot and moody and controlling and really angry all the time while we kinda hope Elle will soon see the error of her ways.
- Lee finds out that Rule Number 9 has been well and truly broken! And is devastated. For, as the goofy younger brother, Elle was the only good thing in his life he had that Noah did not. Awww …
- The friendship appears doomed. But they manage to make it through as Elle and Lee are good kids, and they really do love each other. LOVE EACH OTHER, people! #teamlee
- Then, almost as an aside, Noah dresses up in a tux and apologises for being a douche. In front of everyone. At prom. And Elle – you go girl! – turns him down.
- Alas, the producers have deemed being tall, hot, sporty and beloved by all the swooning girls trumps smug douchiness and violent tendencies, and so our girl changes her mind.
- In a last-ditch attempt to clean up young Noah, it turns out that not only is he tall, hot, sporty, beloved, angry and controlling, he’s also a genius who got into Harvard. Didn’t see that coming!
- And our movie ends with him heading off to college, leaving our girl behind.
Clever, yes? The most subversive part of this flick coming at the very end, thus launching us into a frenzy – will bumptious Elle stick with her simpering bad boy … or not?
Which brings us to:
The Kissing Booth 2
This might be one of those rare times when the sequel is better than the original. Some of the more problematic kinks have been ironed out, and, rather than your classic love triangle, this time it steps up a notch with more of a love quadrangle. Or, when you think about it, it really more of a love pentangle. Is that a thing? Either way there’s lots to untangle. So let’s get to it.
- So, the same characters are back:
- effervescent Elle
- her BFF, lovely Lee
- Lee’s big brother, moody Noah
- Lee’s new girlfriend, benevolent Rachel
- as well as your regular teen movie cast of popular kids, musical kids, student council kids and uptight teachers
- the Kissing Booth – a character in and of itself – has to show up again as it’s in the title
- and … there may be a few new characters to spice things up, so keep on reading
- Summer has passed, and Noah is still far, far away at Harvard. (Thank goodness.)
- Elle and Noah are still ‘together’, dating from a distance, but things – over the phone – seem a little shaky. I mean, of course things can’t run smoothly, or there’d be no second movie. (And yet imagine our joy!)
- Remember Lee and Elle’s Strict Rules For Best Friends? Rule Number 19 dictates besties must go to the same school. UC Berkley it is, as that’s where their mothers went, met and became best friends. Meaning that while Noah is on the east coast, when Elle finishes her senior year she’ll had to college out west.
- Except … Noah is lonely. His fighty urges seem to have been dimmed – good thing – only to be overtaken by a massive amount of clinginess. And now he wants Elle to go to Harvard with him.
The New Boy
- Meanwhile, there’s a new snack at school. With the face of a matinee idol and the voice of a crooner, Marco Pena (played by Taylor Zakhar Perez) is, of course, gorgeous.
- Like Noah before him, Marco makes all the kids swoon, and he takes a shine to our Elle.
- Unlike Noah, Marco is funny, he’s confident, the guy holds eye contact! He plays guitar, he’s a nice guy and can match Elle wit for wit. If only Elle wasn’t still hung up on Noah.
- #teammarco #teammarco #teammarco
- Then lonely Noah buys easily pleased Elle a surprise ticket to visit him at Harvard, where Elle finds out Noah is not, in fact, so lonely after all. He has a big group of super bright friends, including a supremely sophisticated smart girl named Chloe who is also veeerrryyy touchy feely with Noah. Kissy cheeky too. And gropey handsy. Just friends, says Noah, even though Elle finds Chloe’s earring under Noah’s bed, and suggestive text messages between the two.
- So, in a mini recap of the recaps – in movie one Noah has control issues and violent tendencies, in movie number two he leans more into the lying and cheating side of the ugh spectrum.
- Back home again, Lee and Elle need a new headliner for the Kissing Booth, and the only way they can convince hot new guy Marco is if Elle beats him at Dance Dance Mania, their favourite arcade game. Elle wins! Marco is hers! Well, her kissing booth lackey at least.
- Meanwhile, jealousy – always a great motivator – has Elle applying for east coast colleges (without telling Lee). But it costs a zillion dollars that her kindly single dad just can’t afford.
- But hey! You know that dance game she and Lee love so much? There’s a huge contest with a $50,000 first prize that might just pay for her first couple of weeks if she magically gets in! (Assuming they win, and Lee gives up his half of the prize.)
- Except Lee ‘hurts’ his ankle – his long-suffering girlfriend, Rachel, has been super patient, but now really can’t take him adding dance practice to the hoooours he spends with his BFF – and so they convince Marco to take his place (and supposedly now give up his half of the $50k prize?)
- Cue Elle and Marco dancing together, getting to know one another, having deep and meaningful convos on the beach at night, going up in a ferris wheel (the height *ahem* of teen rom-com locations, am I right?)
- The day of the Dance Dance Mania contest arrives, and by now the chemistry between Marco and Elle is off the charts. They both feel it. They both reeeeally like each other. They have shared interests and bring out the best in one another and …
- At the end of their dance, THEY KISS!!!
- Only Noah is in the audience. Surprise! Though the plane trip down from Harvard is nothing compared to the guilt trip he lays on Elle. *ba dum bum *
The Black Moments
- Now everyone is sad.
- Rachel has had enough of Lee always putting Elle first, so Rachel and Lee are sad.
- Elle is sad Noah saw her kiss another guy.
- Marco is sad that the girl he likes is sad.
- Noah is sad that Noah is sad and continues giving Elle the cold shoulder (leaving as his warm shoulder cosmopolitan Chloe, who has followed him home, as if that might help things).
- Then things get really sad when Lee discovers Elle might not be going to UC Berkley with him like they had always promised they would.
The Kissing Booth
- Sadness cannot last forever – this is a teen rom-com, remember. The fair is back! The Kissing Booth is up and running and much lusty teen smooching ensues.
- Rachel and Lee get back together. Awwww.
- Then Marco fronts up when it’s Elle’s turn at the block. Only he doesn’t go in for the kiss, for the young man is mature and respectful. He, with his deep voice and gorgeous lashes and genuine good-guyness, begs a minute of her time so that he might tell her how he feels about her. #TEAMMARCO
- come on Elle come on Elle come on Elle
- Nope. Elle decides she wants Noah after all. [Head falls into hands]
- Elle rushes to the airport to stop Noah from going back to Harvard, and when she catches him he convinces her that Chloe of the sly smile and grabby hands is to him as Lee (best friend since birth) is to her.
- Yep! There’s a cliffhanger at the end of this one too!
- Elle and Lee graduate.
- Lee gets into UC Berkley.
- As does Elle! But she also gets into Harvard too.
- Which one will she choose?
To find out we have to switch to…
Kissing Booth 3
- So with The Kissing Booth 3 now streaming on Netflix, we get to find out: will it be Harvard with Noah, or Berkley with Lee? Or will Elle wake up to herself and realise Marco is an utter doll and pick him?
- You know what we’d really love to see? All the great things Elle could do and see and achieve if she picks a school for herself and NOT FOR A BOY!!!
- Maybe, this time, we all need to be Team Elle. #teamelle.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ally Blake
Ally is a hopeless romantic. She was born into a family of romance reading women and remembers bag loads of books being passed on at family gatherings from her mother, her cousins, her aunt and even her grandmother. Now as a grown up she gets to sit at the laptop, with a title, a couple of beautiful characters in mind and wait for the fairies to take flight. Constant coffee and bowls full of M&Ms make her job that much more pleasurable! Come visit her at www.allyblake.com
Don’t miss Ally’s latest book The Millionaire’s Melbourne Proposal
New landlord…new love?
Free-spirited Nora never expected Melbourne to be her forever home. But, when her landlady, Clancy, passes away, she agrees to stay until Bennet — Clancy’s grandson — can return to Australia. Nora soon realises, over long-distance calls, that whilst Bennet may be her polar opposite…he’s just as lost, emotionally, as she is. Still, when they finally meet, it’s the incredible spark between them that truly stuns her. Could he give her the forever home she actually needs — with him?