I've Watched a Lot of Bad Movies, but Man . . . We Need to Talk About The Kissing Booth

Jun 15 2018 - 10:00am

Netflix knows what teens of today want, and it's a wacky rom-com that prominently features celebrated Ramona and Beezus actor Joey King [1] caught in various states of undress. (She's 18 now, y'all.) The Kissing Booth [2] has become a mini cultural phenomenon, so much so that people of all ages are clamoring for a sequel [3].

How has this little high-school-set romance captured such a large audience? Sure, it has a killer soundtrack [4] and a very tall leading guy [5] (who happens to be dating King IRL), but there's so much more to The Kissing Booth. Teens kissing other teens in blindfolds! Sex and the City [6]-style internal monologues! Scenes so similar to other famous romantic comedies that you'll wonder if they're calculated nods to the classics or if the writers just didn't realize The Proposal had already been there and done that!

After finally breaking down and watching the movie, I felt compelled to take you through the unique journey that is The Kissing Booth. Make sure you're comfortable, because this will take a while.

This is a story about Elle . . .

. . . and Lee.

They're best friends with the exact same birthday — so cute.

There's a montage of them growing up and Elle's mom dying, and now we're here.

In case you think this is a story about Elle and Lee realizing they love each other, it's not.

If this were an '80s or '90s movie, it would definitely be about Elle and Lee realizing they love each other. But this movie is revolutionary!

This is about Elle and Lee's brother, Noah, realizing they love each other. Complicated!

One day, Elle comes to school with her old (very ill-fitting) skirt on.

Her pants were in the wash, you guys, what was she supposed to do? Just NOT WEAR ANYTHING?

Everyone at the school is like, "Whoa."

One guy even asks if there's a new girl at school, because he does not recognize that butt.

Look at these d-bags.

Anyway, some dude is a jerk to Elle and Noah hits him.

Classic Noah, always getting into fights! (What a sweetheart.)

Here's a group of girls that Elle calls the "OMG Girls" because their names are Olivia, Mia, and Gwyneth.

Their lunches consist of water and bananas, which is a thing I only noticed when taking these labor-intensive screenshots. Also, they're not even remotely wearing school uniforms.

So that guy who assumes Elle is a slut because of her skirt is all, "How can I make it up to you?"

Sure, let's give this sexual harrasser another shot.

Elle dares him to wear a skirt in class and LOL he does it!

WHAT A CRAZY GUY. He's wearing combat boots, which could potentially be a shout-out to Bender from The Breakfast Club.

This dude isn't important, but he's always taking pictures "for the yearbook."

"Yearbook" is his catchphrase . . . it's a thing.

Noah is strictly unimpressed by the whole situation.


That jerk stands Elle up.

But wait! It's not his fault — Noah told him he couldn't date Elle.

In fact, Noah has warned ALL the cool guys at school not to touch Elle. That's not controlling at all.

Elle's like, "WTF bro."

So she calls him all mad.

He's shirtless.

If there's anything that this movie has taught me, it's that high school jocks are shirtless [7] all the time.

Fast-forward to the Big Party at Lee and Noah's house.

They are megarich, a plot point that is never actually explained.

The OMG Girls are there, so you KNOW it's poppin'.

Lee is obsessed with one of them (I think the "M" one?) and makes this creepy gesture.

The OMG Girls want Elle to drink some green sh*t.

The one on the right has an indistinguishable on-and-off accent and looks vaguely like Kate McKinnon here.

Elle resists.

Then IMMEDIATELY buckles to peer pressure.

Meanwhile, Noah is just making out with some rando.

Fast-forward through a drinking montage and Elle is dancing on a table.

Yes, just like in 10 Things I Hate About You [8].

Lee is cautiously like, "LOL."

But then Elle starts stripping and he's like, "Naw, dawg."

That 40-year-old appears to be very excited, though.

Elle wakes up in Noah's bed the next day and checks to make sure she still has underwear on.

Most realistic part of this movie, TBH.

Noah comes in shirtless, because the producers burned all his shirts.

At one point, they end up tumbling on the floor together.

Hat-tip to The Proposal.

Elle and Lee get into a paint fight at school and Elle "accidentally" ends up shirtless in the boys' locker room.

Paint fight? Another nod to 10 Things I Hate About You [9], maybe.

Noah gets mad at Elle, but Elle's not having ANY. OF. HIS. ISH.

She's an independent teenage woman.

So she dances around for all the guys, who are honestly way too excited about this.

Noah's not impressed, but he's also kind of impressed.

His face really says it all.


We're at the Kissing Booth [10] part already? Is the movie almost over? NOPE.

In which high schoolers agree to make out with other students while blindfolded.

Does no one else find this problematic? No one at all?

On Lee's turn, everyone is disappointed that his brother isn't participating.

It's really sad and also quite unrealistic because we all know Lee is hot too.

The OMG Girls are being b*tches about it.

At one point, they initiate Elle into their group by telling her she can call them "b*tches." Is this teen life now?!

Then there's this girl, who we've literally not seen once in this film so far.

They kiss.

And BOOM! Girlfriend-boyfriend.

The OMG Girls shove Elle out because they think a dork is next up in line.

But shocker: IT'S NOAH.

And they kiss!

Yearbook Guy has his phone out SO FAST.

This girl with really uncomfortable headgear is mildly disgusted.

Elle removes her blindfold . . .

. . . and they finally see each other.

Like really SEE each other, like in Avatar.


The whole world spins.


Those signs paired with the red curtains are giving me major High School Musical [11] vibes.

Then they realize everyone is watching.

They all clap after this but for a solid three seconds everyone is just in shock.

The spell is broken and Elle is immediately worried about how to tell Lee.

After all, one of their rules is to never date siblings. (I forgot to mention that they have these semi-oppressive rules for their friendship.)

She tells him, and he's not so pleased.

But he's also not pissed. It's a pretty meh reaction.

Elle jogs home, with no explanation whatsoever.

This is so puzzling to me.

Until Noah picks her up and they go to his secret makeout spot.

But she's mad at him . . . for being so hot 'n' stuff.

A few days later, there's a beach party and this dude Warren is a massive A-hole to Elle.

Noah gets defensive.

Warren becomes even more of a jackass.

Is Warren the villain of this movie now? Look at his dumb, villainous face.

Noah punches Warren and again, Headgear Girl is upset.

FYI, this actress is actually credited as "Headgear Girl" on IMDb [12].

Later that night, Elle and Noah full-on have sex . . .

This is what consent looks like, 13 Reasons Why [13].

. . . under the Hollywood sign.

I can't even begin to explain the ways this movie sets teenage girls up to be terribly disappointed about losing their virginity.

Elle and Noah agree to see each other in secret, and hijinks ensue!

Please note that apart from Elle, the contents under Noah's bed include socks, Vaseline, and a magazine. Should kids even be watching this movie?

They spend the next few weeks just having sex everywhere.

And just looking at each other under the boardwalk. (Grease? Is that a Grease thing?)

One day, Noah and Elle are hanging out when two important things happen.

First, she falls down and cuts her face, leading Noah to take her to his room to clean her up. Second, Noah asks her to prom — squee!

Lee sees them together, and immediately thinks his hot-tempered brother hit Elle.

Elle defends Noah, saying she just fell (which is true).

I've also included this photo just so you can get an idea of the massive height difference between 5'4" Joey King [14] and 6'3" Jacob Elordi [15].

Lee leaves, so they take the opportunity to make out.


Here's where the writers use their one allotted "f*ck" in the movie.


Lee becomes furious and Noah pins him to the ground.

Because there's no better way to calm someone down than by physically restraining them.

Anyone with a sibling knows this "things have gone too far but it's too late to turn back" fight all too well.

Elle is devastated.

So Lee and Noah's mom comes to chat with her.

I probably should have noted that Elle's late mother was best friends with Lee and Noah's mom, who happens to be played by legendary actress Molly Ringwald.

Elle tries to apologize with ice cream.

One of their rules is that if a best friend brings you ice cream, you have to forgive them. I was really impressed by how well the ice cream had held up in this scene. Where did she get it? She must have traveled from somewhere with that cone, right? It's not melting at all!


Whatever, they make up like two scenes later.

And Elle has her classic prom reveal.

Reference to She's All That [16] with a dash of Bianca Stratford's 10 Things I Hate About You [17] prom dress.

Elle goes to prom with Lee and his girlfriend, who may or may not be a 30-year-old substitute teacher.

Hard to know for sure.

The live band is playing a cover of Jesus Jones's "Right Here Right Now," every teenager's favorite song!

And there's a heavily implied gay romance?!

These two have looked at each other at least once before in this film, and now they finally get to dance together. So . . . that attempt at representation could have gone better.

All the students are led into a hall of photos.

As it turns out, Yearbook Guy has actually done a really good job.

But here's the kicker: THE KISSING BOOTH IS BACK.

Because apparently The Kissing Booth [18] was such a memorable, raging success the first time around, the school rallied to bring it back as a surprise to Lee and Elle.

Lee and his lady get to revisit the site of their first kiss.

And Elle finally feels content.

And then Noah ruins everything by being hella hot.

Lee isn't stoked.

But again, this movie isn't about Lee and Elle falling in love.

Noah tells Elle he loves her, and her reaction is pretty, pretty, pretty mixed.

So Noah decides to go to college early.

He's going to Harvard in the Fall, natch.

But wait! It's Lee and Elle's birthday.

Same birthday, remember? They're having some sort of costume party. These kids never stop partying.

Elle can't stand it and tells Lee that she loves his brother.

Lee tells her he thinks she's making a mistake, but he'll support her anyway.


Lee knows where Elle can find Noah, so they hop in the car.



Elle tells Noah she loves him, and everyone is cool.

They go back to that greenhouse(?) where they made out once, and make out again.

This security guard is happy for them . . . which is not weird at all.

But Noah has to go to college! Sad!

Elle tells him not to look back and wave, because it's too cheesy and romantic.

Again, please note this height difference.

So away he goes.

Where is his family?!

He doesn't look back.

He leaves her his motorcycle, which he certainly could not have brought to Harvard with him. They don't allow motorcycles there.

Cruel Intentions nod? I see you, The Kissing Booth [19] writers. I SEE YOU.

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