The Kissing Booth 2 is a strange, chaotic explosion of cringe-inducing dialogue and cliched plot devices. Despite this, it is hypnotically awful and mind-numbingly brilliant and should, therefore, be watched by everyone.
This film feels both massively out of touch and awkwardly of its time. It is painfully packed with overwrought millennial buzzwords: podcasts, Xbox, emojis, nudes, Instagram highlights; and the effect is like a bunch of older writers screaming outdated hashtags at you and saying: “Get it?”
Despite the fact it feels like what an AI would produce if you only let it read Buzzfeed articles then forced it to write a screenplay, the utter lack of self-awareness is somewhat endearing. There is a catharsis to watching something that is unapologetically going for the zeitgeist jugular and its flailing attempts at relevance are, if nothing else, massively entertaining.
Despite this over-reliance on modern parlance, the film does absolutely nothing new. Kissing Booth 2 seems to think it’s more woke than its ’00s predecessors but struggles to shed the heavy weights of Hollywood stereotypes and cliches. The male cast is alarmingly topless, quite literally exposing the stringent beauty standards, and the homogeneous sex and relationship drama fails to break any mould or rise above the tidal wave of existing high school comedies.
The plot is a dizzying mess of interpersonal relationships between people who seem too old to play the roles, and who have terrible haircuts. This sequel seems unable to let go of the plot of the first film – in which teenager Joey King is forced to face her crush at the titular booth – and hence drags it like a semi-decomposed carcass while also running head-first into a range of odd and stereotypical teen film plot points (college admission drama, arcade competitions, negging-heavy flirtation, love triangles), all of which are half-formed and overwrought. The dance mat competition around which the film revolves, however, is a unique and fun premise that pays off really well.
Kissing Booth 2 isn’t just badly written; it’s terribly made. From the outset, it is glaringly over-lit which creates a sense of fever dream surreality and quite honestly adds to the experience. The startlingly fast montages add to the confusion that this film creates. It’s quite an assault on the senses and, paired with the excessive run time, you start to wonder if this is some sort of sick Netflix social experiment. This film wasn’t made to win best editing Oscars though, and once you get past the jarring filming you begin to acquiesce to the strange experience of watching it.
This is a film to be watched with friends and torn apart, laughed at, quoted, and stared at with disbelief. It makes a weak attempt to break from the entrenched mould of Hollywood teen rom coms but although it doesn’t manage it Kissing Booth 2 is a fun and downright wacky journey that will leave you exhausted and disillusioned, but above all, amused.
Available to stream on Netflix now