The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
It’s been two whole years since the last time we had to endure the melodrama of Elle’s high school escapade at the kissing booth, and we are back with The Kissing Booth 2… unfortunately.
Vince Marcello is back, and with his expertise from the first film comes the exact same downfalls. The film is way too bright – the contrast level is off the board making everything feel so artificial. The decisions he made whether behind the camera or with his co-writer while penning the script lead to some seriously comically bad sequences. After the lengthy runtime, one of the few things that truly stuck with me when the credits rolled was just how “extra” Marcello was being with every aspect of the film.
Marcello adapted the original with his co-writer Jay S. Arnold from a book written by Beth Reekles. I’ve personally not read the book, so I can’t say for sure what in this sequel was actually in the original book, but going off a hunch I’d say that The Kissing Booth 2 was mostly an original take on where these characters would be now after the events of the first. The screenplay is all over the place in its tone, occasionally wanting you to have a heart to heart with the characters while other times having a Ferris Bueller like run down the hallway. The Kissing Booth 2 is filled with relationships (both friendly and romantic) that convolute the central story and makes the film drag when it shouldn’t.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The dialogue is cheesy and the situations are ridiculously predictable, but the actors try their best with the material they have. The only issue is that the material they have is soap opera quality story arcs. Similar to the original (which I’ll admit I nearly forgot), the characters' bonds throughout the film are easily forgettable and never draw any emotional depth. Joey King is fine in the film, but as the leading actor, she is by far the weakest link as she is the character we are supposed to invest the most into.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
"...a convoluted teen romance that overstays its welcome..."
Visually the film “goes for it”, beyond the neon-esque contrast the director has applied to both of the films in this series, the film is a mix of a generic settled back teen romance but with eccentric scenarios thrown in such as a visually surprising “dance dance” arcade competition and a unrealistic high school party thrown at a crazy local with rehearsed choreography. A lot of this does not work, keep that in mind but it certainly deserves some recognition for trying a few crazy things that seem similar to the odd things a Happy Madison production would create.
The Kissing Booth 2 (2020) | NETFLIX
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Take away the music and you have a significantly better film. The score relies on being heavily present in every scene and especially with every character interaction. If a scene was trying to be funny, the score would let you know in the most unsubtle way it could. Other music choices such as a song by Walk the Moon, a band that was heavily prominent a few years back, is a breath of fresh air even when in the context of a dancing arcade game it makes very little sense to be included. Composer Patrick Kirst has worked with Marcello a handful of times throughout his career and needs to learn to hold back his excessive need to show off his craft.
There are a few ways to look at The Kissing Booth 2. One of which is to look at it from a sequel stand point. If you enjoyed the original film then this film does what it’s supposed to do: build upon the characters from the first and continue to expand their stories. The second way, which is where I stand, is someone who didn’t enjoy the cliché ridden The Kissing Booth but managed to get through it by laughing through it – that film however was 105 minutes while The Kissing Booth 2 is an absurd 130 minutes. The Kissing Booth 2 is more of the same that you either loved or hated from the first but drawn out into a convoluted teen romance that overstays its welcome by existing in the first place.