Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – The Kissing Booth

Summary: Born on the same day, Elle (Joey King) and Lee (Joel Courtney) were destined to be besties, living through childhood together all the way to high school. They have their own traditions and rules, one of which is never date the relative of your friend… which is a problem because Elle has it bad for Lee’s brother Noah (Jacob Elordi). When their school needs ideas for a fundraiser, Elle and Lee have the ingenious idea of a kissing booth. It goes off without a hitch… to the point where a blindfolded Elle winds up kissing Noah. One thing leads to another and the two become secret sweethearts, but that leaves Elle in the awkward position of still being Lee’s friend and figuring out when to tell him before it’s too late.

Review: The Kissing Booth was… wow. Just wow. It’s been a while since I’ve seen something so heinous. The whole thing reeks of white privilege and is told through an oh-so-peppy lens… at least when it’s not being dramatic where everything seems like it’s the end of the world. This can best be exemplified in the opening montage of our leading lady growing up happily with her BFF with random intercut scenes of DYING MOM. The transition between the two is so jarring that you can practically hear the transmission gears grinding their teeth off and this dynamic does not stop throughout the entire movie.

Something that really bugs me is that the movie’s very odd view on sexual harassment and gender dynamics. There’s a scene where Elle gets her butt slapped because she showed up to school in a short skirt and, to make up for it, the offender has to parade around in her skirt for her amusement. All the while, it’s treated with a sort of tee-hee amusement as if sexual harassment can be so charming. This rears its head again when Noah, displaying anger and control issues on par with Edward Cullen and Christian Grey, demands that a half-naked Elle get out of the boys’ locker room (which is a story I won’t even BEGIN to explain), to which Elle responds by defiantly strutting around for the boys while some take pictures. I think we’ve found proof of alien life as they’ve clearly made this movie.

The whole thing reads as a pastiche of rom com and high school cliches, but jumbled in such a way that no one acts like a normal human being. Everyone acts like a life-or-death situation occurs in every conflict without even the slightest bit of irony, characters will suddenly drop out of the plot halfway through the movie after a big deal is made about them, people act like garbage to one another even when they’re friends, and everything seems to run on a logic so completely apart from what’s socially acceptable. Yet it’s all delivered in a way that reeks of privilege — particularly how it seems to romanticize leering as “attention” — which makes it even more insufferable.

I was surprised to learn this was based on a novel… until I looked into it and discovered that the novel started on the website known as Wattpad and suddenly everything made sense. Wattpad is an online writing forum consisting of mostly teenage authors, the writer herself being 15 when she wrote the story. This explains everything because it seems like it was written from a teenage perspective, a very privileged teenage perspective where sexual harassment is no big thing, an anger prone teenager can fixed by a girlfriend, and high school crushes could last forever. Sure, it eventually counters some of these ideas and tries to take a stand for the women-folk, but the tone reads like it’s the first one to ever think of this stance. It speaks to a mindset teenage girls can have, but I don’t think it’s a mindset that needs to be promoted.

This was bad, folks. This was putridly, acidically bad. The only positive note is the chemistry between our romantic leads, but that can be because they’re dating in real life. This movie portrays issues through an undeserved romantic light without having the slightest interest in their root causes — sure, Noah’s anger is addressed, but why is he angry? Why is Lee so bitter towards his brother? And why did Hollywood decide it was too good for Molly Ringwald, forcing her into junk like this and Riverdale? It’s not as bad as Twilight, but it’s in that same vein that makes me worry about what values we’re teaching to the women of tomorrow.

Fun Tidbit: For a costume party later in the movie, Elle dresses up as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, which is a fitting choice because Joey King played a young Talia al Ghul in that very movie.

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