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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Francesca

The Kissing Booth 3: A Tale of Love, Friendship and Growing Up...Starring Molly Ringwald!

Opening Statement: I hope to enlighten my readers on a short journey into my views! Thank you and enjoy!


Well folks, it was 4 AM and this cold I’m currently enduring would not let me sleep. What else does one watch when they’ve already finished the new seasons of Sex Education, Atypical, watched the entirety of Bridgerton in less than 24 hours and finished your all time favorite show, The Vampire Diaries? That’s right, you watch The Kissing Booth 3!


Let’s dive right in, shall we? (“Shall we,” I guess Bridgerton is rubbing off on me.) At the top of every film in The Kissing Booth trilogy, I find that there is this initial awkwardness between the 3 lead characters, Shelly (“Elle”) Evans, played by Joey King, Lee Flynn, played by Joel Courtney and Noah Flynn, played by Jacob Elordi. It seems to feel like it’s the first day of class or something and every scene is just one long ice breaker. I especially notice this with Lee’s character, it takes time before Courtney gets comfortable in the role again, allowing him to play it more genuinely. This shift in performance is so apparent to me, that I wonder if they started production at the top of the film, which is very uncommon in cinema. It’s interesting to watch, if you haven’t noticed it before, it’s worth lending your attention to in your rewatch!




SPOILERS BELOW


Eventually, the three leads seem to find their way back into their respective characters and overall their performances smooth out. After such smoothing, the rest of the story took a much bumpier path. There were several storylines jammed into this final film and they all eventually lead to a nice, clean wrap up, but the ride was rocky nonetheless. The film welcomes back Marco and Chloe, played by Taylor Zakhar Perez and Maisie Richardson-Sellers, who once again, whether intentionally or unintentionally, test the stability of Elle and Noah’s relationship. We watch Elle struggle with her Dad’s new girlfriend Linda, whilst trying to balance her love-life with Noah, her friendship with Lee and the impending start of college that will eventually swoop her away from one of them (Elle’s father played by Stephen Jennings and Linda played by Bianco Amato). The tale also deals with growing older and finding independence.


Each one of these plot points feels justified based on what the first two films leave us with, but none were truly fleshed out enough to hold any weight. In the first and second versions, I think they were successful in bringing these points to life…because they had two whole movies to do so. In the third, there was just not enough time in the already lengthy 1 hour and 53 minutes to rehash these topics, nor did it feel necessary, the other two films seemed to make peace with them for the most part.


In contradiction to my most previous statement, I thought the pull back to our love triangle with Elle, Noah and Marco was a nice touch, since if I remember correctly, The Kissing Booth 2 does leave us to assume that Marco is still interested in Elle. It created for nice tension and the film also brings back Chloe and even allows us to think that something will transpire between her and Noah. This assumption never comes to a head in the film, as we watch both Chloe and Noah maintain a strong friendship. Their bond never waivers into relationship territory, despite the previously laid groundwork that suggests it may go that way. Was this friendship necessary to include in this final film then? I guess one could say Richardson-Sellers’ character was there to keep Noah on track and remind him to fight for Elle, unlike her soon to be divorced parents who she felt were giving up on each other. Even then, neither Noah nor Elle really “fought” for each other in this film, they slipped away pretty seamlessly. Noah did try to rekindle things with a beach front dinner and by surprising Elle with a jukebox dance after-hours at her job. Still, there wasn’t enough fire in the fight. This lack of passion could have been leading to one of the film's final queries: is simply loving someone, enough?


One of my favorite characters in the trilogy has to be Mrs. Flynn, played by non-other than the iconic Molly Ringwald! As the mother of Noah and Lee Flynn, and the most prominent mother-figure in Elle’s life, Molly Ringwald brings warmth to every scene as she guides the teens through the ups and downs of relationships. For an actress famous for her younger roles (see The Brat Pack), Ringwald takes on the parental role with grace in this modern-day teen flick. Mrs. Flynn’s relationship with Elle brought a tear to my eye as I welled up with many emotions. The bond they share throughout each film is truly heartwarming.


Moving on from my favorite aspect of the film to some of my least favorite. There were several lines of dialogue and a particular plot point that sent home a few of the “wrong” messages, in my opinion.


  • There were several instances in the film where one character would verbally shove the things they’ve done for another character at them in the heat of an argument, without apologizing.

  • The first instance is when Noah creates a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach for Elle and when she professes that she has prior plans with Lee for the night, he responds with “I made you dinner, I did this whole thing for you, you’re just gonna leave?”

  • The next is when Elle’s Dad is upset with her for giving his new girlfriend Linda the cold shoulder. Out of frustration, Elle wrongfully calls her Dad “selfish” for dating again after losing his wife many years prior. He responds by saying “I spent the last six years of my life, making sure that you and Brad are my only priority…I even took a job that I hate to earn more money to help you with school…” (Brad is Elle’s younger brother, played by Carson White.)


My take on this is that when one person cares for another, they do things for them out of love, because they want to. Because of that, there is never an excuse or good reason to throw those acts of love back in one’s face. I can understand that sometimes our actions can go unappreciated/unnoticed, which may call for conversation with your loved one(s), but I don’t agree with using one’s good deeds as a weapon in the face of pain or discomfort. It strips all genuine qualities from those positive acts of affection. Arguments happen, things get messy, but the film never showed our characters making up or apologizing for such low-blows that came about in the heat of the moment.


  • We never get to see Elle’s journey of self-discovery, we only hear it from other people.


The first two films establish Elle to be a strong independent young lady who is fearless and effortlessly herself. In The Kissing Booth 3, I feel that Elle is somehow weaker, mushier and easily pushed around a bit more. She didn’t stand up for herself when Noah chose to break up with her on "her behalf "because he felt it was best for her. In actuality, this is a selfish act rather than a selfless one because it is Noah making the choice for the both of them without any say from Elle. What were they trying to suggest here? That this tough chick who we had the pleasure of meeting in films 1 & 2 and who wasn’t the least bit nervous about wearing a full Mario suit to go-kart race in, couldn’t make her own decisions for herself? She never really stood up for herself either when, as mentioned above, two important men in her life use the kind things they’ve done for her, against her.





In the end, we do get to see that Elle has matured into her own and is a successful video game designer and USC alumni, but again we didn’t get to see any of that growth actually happen. The only time we get to experience this in the slightest bit is when our #queen Mrs. Flynn expresses to Elle that maybe she should pick a school based on her own wants and needs and not those of her best-friend and boyfriend. Even when she finds her calling (video-game design), we don’t get to see this revelation, we only get to hear it (from the mouth of a man) when Lee tells Noah. Even though seemingly small, I think these little notions and themes mentioned above send home mixed messages to the younger audience about healthy relationships and identity.The film just may have benefited from physically seeing more of Elle’s journey of self-discovery, rather than hearing about it from other characters. I’d like to believe that Joey King brings a lot of herself to Elle’s character in the first two films, and I wish the finale let a bit more of these independent and fearless qualities shine.


I felt the overall ending was rather satisfying, as Jacob Elordi was quoted saying on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with guest host Julie Bowen in August. We got to see the sad breakup between Elle and Noah and between Lee and Rachel (played by Meganne Young), Elle and Lee reviving their friendship, and the four heading off to their respective colleges. Elle made peace with her father and Linda, and even spent more time with her younger brother Brad towards the end. We get to see the actual kissing booth one final time at the very end when we flash forward 6 years and now, the 4 graduates are finally back together reminiscing on their beloved festival attraction. Rachel and Lee get back together and are engaged to be married and although Elle and Noah are not together, the movie leaves you with a sense that they just might be destined to rekindle old high school flames in the near future. And none of this would have been possible without that kissing booth, as Elle mentions in one of the last voice overs of the film. I guess this answers one of the film's biggest question; yes, loving someone can be enough to make a relationship work in the long run. Elle even has her own motorcycle in the end, pretty bad-ass! Don’t get me wrong, it still doesn’t make up for some of the other things I mentioned above, but it's still a nice homage to the strong lady we met in the first and second films.


The most memorable theme of the film has to be the value of friendship and just how difficult growing up can be. Our hearts break as Lee reluctantly paints over the doorframe with all their growing height measurements on it from childhood. If that scene isn’t painful enough, the most gut-wrenching moment, and quite practically my favorite scene in the entire film (The Kissing Booth 3 - 1:32:40), is when Lee is driving off to college and further from Elle. Elle is revealed to be standing in front of 3 younger versions of herself, while Lee has 3 younger versions of himself looking back at her as the vintage Ford Mustang pulls away. I get chills just thinking about it! We are all simply built up of the many younger versions of ourselves which can make any change, especially transitioning into adulthood, quite difficult. If I was about two or three years younger and in the midst of college-life still, I would have been bawling, but I was incredibly moved by this moment nonetheless!


Awkward at first, yet sweet in its conclusion, The Kissing Booth 3 was an enjoyable wrap up to the trilogy. I enjoyed the first two films for the epic love story, fun-loving friendship, and especially powerful female lead, and although it was a nice ride, I felt the last film lacked in these areas to some degree. It was a noisy wrap-up and the writing could have have been stronger and more forward-thinking, in my opinion. To quickly add, I also felt the costume-choice in the second to last scene was slightly over-the-top. All four leads show up to the festival where the kissing booth is stationed in full business-wear, I guess to show us that they are all successful college grads now? They could have changed before the festival and worn something age-appropriate and I think the same point would have come across just fine. Either way, it was still a good watch and I probably didn’t need to put this much thought into a coming-of-age trilogy, but HEY, I’m sick in bed and open to many types of films because you never know what you’ll find! Plus, as unrealistic as dramatic teen love stories can be, they can still be fun to watch, while leaving us with hope for romantic epic-ness! (The Kissing Booth 49:00:00).


~Francesca Reviews


 

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Disclaimer: All of my posts are based off of my own knowledge, opinion, and beliefs and this blog is only meant to be a platform to share those things with the world. I am always open to hear what you all have to say about the topics I write about, listening to many perspectives can only enhance my knowledge! Therefore, feel free to start a friendly conversation sharing your opinions! Thank you!


Photo Credits: Free Stock from Pexels - Photo Booth Photo & Girl Power Photo

Cover Photo - Screenshot from Netflix film The Kissing Booth 3

 

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