‘The Kissing Booth 3’ is a Terrible Ending to an Asinine Teen Franchise

NICHOLAS CHANG | REPEAT OFFENDERS



When the credits of Netflix’s The Kissing Booth 3 finally finished, I was happy. Not because the series is over, but that, no matter what I write, it can never be as bad as The Kissing Booth franchise. But even with the brief confidence boost, it does not ease my fears that Netflix may produce a spin-off, remake, prequel, or reboot of The Kissing Booth franchise or even another formulaic teen movie. Since its target demographics happily consume this junk, the nightmare may never end.


No one expects The Kissing Booth films to be realistic, and I’m sure that’s what the third film intended, but this final entry reaches ludicrous heights. Continuing from the first and second films, Elle (Joey King) has received two acceptance letters to Harvard and Berkeley, bringing her into conflict about the time she spends between her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) and her boyfriend Noah (Jacob Elordi). If she chooses Harvard, she goes with Noah. If she chooses Berkeley, she goes with Lee. That’s enough to make Elle preposterously claim how hard and pressurising her life is as she sorts through a ridiculous bucket list with Noah, catches up with Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez), and eventually determines her future.


Movies are detached from reality, sometimes serving as mindless escapism for mainstream audiences, and it’s okay if they are aware of their lack of realism, but they cannot forget to entertain. While that will work for teen audiences, The Kissing Booth 3 is two hours of exhaustingly unfunny torture. Its poor excuses for comedy reek of immature antics that suggest a 10-year-old wrote the script, and the eye-rolling insanity that director Vince Marcello devises is unintentionally hilarious. Not a single frame of The Kissing Booth 3 screams of a cinematic value. Its unimpressive presentation and technical aspects make it feel like another episode of a top-rated Netflix show rather than an actual movie.


But once again, the central character relationships are full of avoidable misunderstandings and communication issues to drag the plot out. It leads to repetitive situations that are overwhelmingly similar to the previous movies, and there is no directorial regard towards the characters. While Lee and Noah prove to be bad friends, Elle’s attitude infuriates me. She claims her life is hard, where her biggest struggles involve:

  • Completing a toddler’s bucket list.

  • Spending time between Noah and Lee.

  • Choosing which prestigious college to attend.

What about underclass struggles, teen mental health issues, and global and political conflicts that affect people internationally? Elle’s behaviour reeks of privilege which makes the characters into unrelatable caricatures, and even if that was the point, there’s no compelling purpose or conflict behind this.


Writing about these films isn’t fun to do. The Kissing Booth 3 genuinely relies on a limited number of factors to make it work, which concerns the acting and entertainment value. Joey King’s performance feels sincere as she tries to inject personality into Elle, despite the character’s unlikability. I’m sure Jacob Elordi is a fine actor (Euphoria proved that for me), but he and Joel Courtney lack the magnetic material that allows their acting abilities to stand out. The true standout features The Kissing Booth 3 creates are their masculine appearances, because hey, why would writers want to add in a physically ugly but kind character when the attractive appearances of teenagers in their 20s serve as a charming, desirable characteristic? Taylor Zakhar Perez’s performance as Marco is sufficient, and at least his character is bearable enough to prevent The Kissing Booth 3 from being thoroughly unwatchable.


The most fun I had in The Kissing Booth 3 is the Mario Kart cosplay sequence, where everyone appeared to be having a blast. While the race would prove hazardous in real life, Marcello makes a brief and mildly exciting tribute to Nintendo’s intellectual properties that suits the movie’s inherent silliness. And that’s it. There’s nothing worth recommending here, and The Kissing Booth 3 hopes the ill-developed relationship stakes will distract you from the near-complete absence of an actual kissing booth. It’s baffling enough to think about this franchise’s direction, but that alone tells you how many ideas The Kissing Booth 3 doesn’t have.


If all you want is terrible relationship drama and privileged teenagers being jerks, this film will exactly fit your bill. It knows what it wants to be, but it doesn’t mean it works. It carries the dull Netflix coming-of-age formula, and ultimately, The Kissing Booth 3 is a complete waste of time. The best part is that this franchise is over, and we can finally move on. We should have done this three years ago – or eleven years ago if you consider the original Wattpad books by Beth Reekles! Good riddance.

Score: 2/10.

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