The Kissing Booth review: A classic teen flick with a strong dose of nostalgia
'The Kissing Booth' is like reading a romantic tween story by Meg Cabot — the kind with cute hearts scribbled all over the cover. The film, The Kissing Booth, is an adaptation of a book by the same name written by 15-year-old Welsh author Beth Reekles. Since she's a teen, it really isn't hard to guess why the whole film gives you a nostalgia trip — it's simple, we've all been there.
Elle (Joey King) or Shelly is a 16-year-old teen, living her best years with her best friend Lee Flynn (Joel Courtney). The two were born on the same day to best friend moms and have been raised together in a very close-knit family circle. Elle's mum gets sick and passes away as she's growing up and Lee's mum has been like her "surrogate mum". The two share everything and Elle has the most massive crush on Lee's older brother Noah (Jacob Elordi). Athletic, smart with kind eyes, not to mention gorgeous looks, Noah is perfect high school crush material.
Now you'd expect that Elle has insecurities and the boy likes her anyway and you couldn't be more wrong... and that's where the beauty of this movie lies. Teenage boys notice a short skirt before Elle's personality like you didn't already know that, yes it's sexist, but it is also reality. Elle loves soccer, cannot do her makeup (no negativity about it either), and Noah eventually falls for her, not because of anything else but because she has no pretenses. Unlike every other teen movie ever, Elle doesn't think that's she isn't good enough - not once is the film even talking about that and I love it. He makes her nervous, she makes him nervous just as much and that's the most relatable part of this relationship.
As far as performances go, King is very convincing and so is Elordi and Courtney. The bff bickerings, the jokes, the fun, the sexual tension and the pain, it successfully transcends from the screen to our hearts, reminding us all of a more innocent, less complicated time. Not that we thought so back then, quite like these three.
Directed by Vince Marcello, this film is actually one of the better movies he's directed. He does a lot of teen flicks - 'Zombie Prom', 'Mc Kenna', 'Liar Liar Vampire' and 'Isabelle Dances into The Spotlight' and none of them appeal to a wider range of audience like 'The Kissing Booth' does.
The soundtrack and the dialogues were quite average and perhaps this is where it was a miss for me. While the music seems to be very young with tracks by Vampire Weekend, Sikora and Marvin Young, for me, I wasn't really connecting the song to any scene. For instance, in 'Mean Girls' the ultimate teen flick of all time the score for the prom scene where Cady kisses Aaron is 'Built this way' by Samantha Ronson. The song was stuck in my head every time I thought of the film and to think it isn't even a love song. Even then it is so beautifully incorporated into the scene - and that memorable music is what 'The Kissing Booth' is missing.
Coming to the dialogues, I think that Vince Marcello should have tweaked it a little. The wit is majorly missing in this screenplay for sure. Since they've built such smart characters, it wouldn't hurt to incorporate some wit.
The film portrays the concept of love and sexual desires of a teen on point, not leaving us feeling like it's a preachy or wannabe movie. This film doesn't try to be woke or have a message - it is what it is, a romantic comedy meant to be enjoyed as an escape from adult life distractions.