The Kissing Booth (2018)

dir. Vince Marcello

It’s genuinely alarming that a movie like The Kissing Booth can be made and find success in 2018. So many of the ideas are fundamentally archaic. The best friendship at the centre of the story is dependent to the point of emotional abuse, while the main character Elle’s love interest is manipulative and aggressive, frequently being withdrawn and aloof before bullying her into obedience. All this would be fine if the movie challenged any of it at all, but instead it joyfully does the opposite and claims that Elle’s world of selfish, insecure men is one to be aspired to. The kissing booth itself is nothing short of disturbing, with teenagers slobbering over each other, blindfolded and quite necessarily unable to consent. There’s an unbelievably lazy rip-off of Mean Girls‘ plastics trio, but none of the same intrigue or humour. All in all, The Kissing Booth tries to call itself just another high school coming of age story, but the reality is that the psychological relationships are so fundamentally damaged, it could be viewed as more of a horror than a rom-com. The thing is, it gets even worse in The Kissing Booth 2.

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