The Reel Review

C-

This third and final installment in the young adult Netflix romcom franchise has high school graduate Elle (Joey King) spending her final summer before college at a beach house with both her boyfriend Noah (Jacob Elordi) and her best friend, his younger brother Lee (Joel Courtney). Elle is torn between attending one of two colleges, Harvard or Berkeley, a decision which will end up disappointing one of them. The film is based on the YA book series by Welsh author Beth Reekles.

Joey King, Jacob Elordi, Joel Courtney and Meganne Young in The Kissing Booth 3.

After two winsome and very charming films, The Kissing Booth franchise appears to have finally contracted mononucleosis, with a painfully corny and disappointingly bland final chapter. With formulaic, contrived melodrama and slapstick humor apparently aimed at a young children, the first two-thirds of this film is almost unwatchable. Add to that some puzzling story decisions – chief among them, lots of underage drinking and the boys’ realtor mom (Molly Ringwald) letting teenagers manage the sale of her multi-million dollar beach house – and well, not only is this YA film tone deaf, but it is also pretty reckless.

Jacob Elordi and Joey King in The Kissing Booth 3.

Fortunately, the awfulness of The Kissing Booth 3 is somewhat salvaged by a final act that at least recaptures some of the charm of the prior films, as co-writer/director Vince Marcello wraps up the story arcs with our protagonist Elle reminiscing wistfully about how some relationships last only for a while, while others persist, but change over time. If you are invested in the franchise after watching the first two installments, save yourself some time (and tedium) and just fast forward to the 1:15 mark. Click on the titles for reviews of The Kissing Booth and The Kissing Booth 2.

REEL FACTS

• Because Joey King had shaved her head for 2019’s The Act, she had to wear a wig when filming these  subsequent sequels, which although set in Los Angeles, most of which were both filmed at the same time in 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.

• Unlike what is portrayed in the film, it is illegal to get close to the 45-foot-tall Hollywood sign that overlooks Los Angeles. The sign is surrounded by a fence and surveillance cameras due to past vandalism.

Jacob Elordi’s Instagram story with the original movie poster and a thank you to co-star Joey King.

• Joey King and Jacob Elordi, who started dating during the production of The Kissing Booth and broke up shortly afterwards, reportedly are now friends.

 

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