It’s unbelievably hard to describe how “The Kissing Booth” manages to be so poorly written, yet so pleasant to watch, like I did so many times. The movie is based on Beth Reekles’ novel, discovered originally by a young audience on Wattpad (a fanfiction online platform). Initially, the book illustrates pre-teen energy in their final years of high school still figuring out what love is worth meanwhile fighting for good grades, friendships and a scoring reputation before falling on the sidelines of nobodies. But the tweeny energy and the awkwardly funny bad dialogues give it sort of a reassuring twist that makes the movie proper enough for anyone to watch.
As for the where and when the story takes place, let’s be honest almost everything about high school in that film is either wildly inaccurate or badly stereotypical. There is a homage to “the Plastics” from the movie “Mean Girls” for any film enthusiast who gets the hints. Then, for some reason, a girl with horrible orthodontic headgear is frequently shown in the background for comedic effect. This along with passing notes in classrooms, borderline mini skirts as the uniform, and an elaborate carnival “fundraiser” for a private school that clearly has more money than any public school could ever wish for. Tough, let me just disclaim that I did not grow up in Beverly Hills or whatever wealthy neighbourhood in LA this production seems to be set in. However, not too long ago I was a teenager who went to parties and our parties (in Canada if you must know), were not like that. If you go into the movie not understanding who wrote the original story- the Wattpad published story—I can understand why you may hate it or even feel frustrated with all the clichés.
On the other hand, let me show you why this movie, even with its critics and inaccuracy is still good and even close to endearing and brilliant.
Shocking as it may seem even for me, Joey King’s portrayal of Elle is both modern and feminist. Her best friend is a straight boy, and she’s not ending-up dating him, which I find unusually refreshing. She is funny and bold. And most importantly, she stands up for herself, for her values and ideas and doesn’t let boys, even those in her inner circle, tell her what to do. Thank you Elle! She’s independent and strongly opinionated. And yet, on the other hand, what I don’t appreciate and understand that it may be the “why” lots of you think it’s poorly written—because of Lee, Elle’s best friend. Once it’s shown that Elle broke the most important rule of their friendship—“Rule #9,” he flips out. (in an insanely way – just saying). And all of a sudden, this healthy friendship – you adored so far – turns pretty bad and possessive Lee won’t let her be happy with the relationship she craves for. Almost like he secretly loves her and won’t have the guts to tell her but won’t let her be happy anyway. Conveniently enough, it’s never the case in this movie. Although Elle, like the feminist queen that she is, tells Lee to knock it off no matter what though. Just like anyone should do when it comes to defending yourself when anyone thinks they know better.
As the first movie comes to an end, the story again makes a refreshing turn of events—Elle and Noah kind of stay together, but also kind of break up. It feels like the most realistic moment I saw in a rom-com in a long time. I challenge anyone to argue the fact that relationships are never too easy or too perfect as typically shown in movies. By the way, you might also like to read What is love? to see some new perspective on love and relationships if you still fight for it too. Mostly Elle and Noah problem’s show us that when someone is not happy with your union or if a person close to you is even opposed to your relationship it shadows on your couple and sometimes it’s bad enough to stink for a while. Things get complicated, nasty and mostly you are forced to make a decision that not everyone will be agreeing with, but you’ll do it for the own sanity of your relationship. And also, it takes a lot more than just a rapid talk in the school ground and a kiss on the cheek for a couple to be good and in sync again.
Lucky me though, the second movie just aired days ago on Netflix and since not everyone has devoured the first “Kissing Booth” in the first place with the same kind of enthusiasm as I did, let me focus more on the greater topic that it manages to present in the sequel – long-distance relationships.
As I think about it more and more, let me just ask you guys this question, comment on it please if you want to share your opinion too: why people still underestimate the authenticity of long-distance relationships (LDR)? Would you question a visually impaired or a quadriplegic person for falling in love with a soul without touching or seeing her skin? if your answer navigates between an awkward laugh and a smirk, then maybe you need some perspective and stop judging long-distance relationships. See, I think that LDR does not rely on physical love, but is driven by the love that inspires your heart, mind and soul. By the communication, the long talks and the long hours dreaming and building up your trust for each other with no other thing than your authenticity and honesty. Deep down, your values are shown, your capacities are tested and your courage and patience are the biggest virtue you’ll work on. Obviously your love is tested every day, but also it gives you the opportunity to always prove to your person and yourself how important principles and values are to you. Because honestly, what you have in LDR is only the talking and the “it’ll show through time”. A lot of people are complaining nowadays about how much closer they’ll be if it’s not because of distance, but these people are wrong in my opinion. These people think that distance is a barrier, but I think otherwise. I think distance is just a test of how strong a relationship is really and how authentically in love you are. Any couple can stay loyal to each other if they were always together, but not every couple wants to. And that is the main difference between the “I want and I can” and the “I am and I will”. Desire versus hope. Honestly, I think that it’s the time where you are separated from your significant other that really counts. Distance builds trust, loyalty and ultimately a healthy relationship since it needs all these components to be one. What I am also not saying here, is that LDR is not for the fearful, it is for the bold souls. It is for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with your person, but also a wonderful and memorable time. It’s building your empire on your own and creating the life you want as an individual while sharing all the success with your person when the hustle is done for the day. It’s acknowledging that each one of you has his projects and his dreams, but no one said that sacrificing one’s dreams to be together is the unique solution – NO – it’s, on the other hand, some distance for a certain period of time that will get you both to the final destination. Most importantly, distance relationships are for those knowing to recognize a good thing or a good person when they see it, even if they don’t see it nearly enough.
Waiting is a sign of true love and patience. Anyone can say I love you, but not everyone can wait and prove it. “The Kissing Booth” is far from a masterpiece – I’ll give it to you. But it’s fun. It shows some great topics and it starts conversations. Sometimes you don’t always need to choose a book or a movie that is beautiful to the world, but one that makes you think about your word. A strong relationship requires choosing each other and loving each other even when struggling and in those moments where you can only seem to like each other. That is the moral of the movie and that is the moral I want to stand by with my life. As for what it was in the first place —a sort of fan fiction about a semi-regular high school romance, the movie is exactly how it is supposed to be. Also remembering that it was written by a 15-year-old for a website that invites tweens and teens to write semi-pro stories, which is the closest thing to a first novel for the same aged audience. In other words, even if people have been horrified or more about this movie, let’s just finish this article with Elle’s words: The kissing booth meant something to people.
with love always