If you thought this trilogy of disasters couldn’t get any worse beyond the second film, guess again. Somehow, someway, The Kissing Booth 3 breaks the mould in terms of what makes a bad film by barely having enough content to be considered a film at all. I’d summarise the narrative for you here, but there’s no narrative through-lines to actually describe. There’s no plot, it’s just scenes.
This entire franchise has been notoriously poorly written, with each one struggling to craft a cohesive story that doesn’t feel like an absolute mess. The first film admittedly held it together in its simplicity of focusing on the kissing booth, then the second film threw 20 subplots into a blender to make a shitshow smoothie. With this film, it’s like the writers threw a whole lot of random shit at a wall and hoped something stuck. Almost never has there been a film that is lacking in narrative so much that it’s near impossible to keep track of what’s happening. At 30 minutes into the movie, there’s still no clear direction of where things are heading – and just when you think it’s all kicking things off, it just meanders aimlessly through scene after scene of nothing. It’s clear they really wanted to stretch this thing out to a third film but there wasn’t enough content to make a cohesive story, so they just slapped together some ideas and packaged it as a movie.
There’s no focus, there’s nothing engaging to grasp onto and the entire film feels like a series of randomly-selected vignettes that are entirely unconnected and will leave you baffled as to why or how anything is happening. Everything, and I mean everything, feels entirely spontaneous – like someone in the writers room was like “and what if this happened?” so they did it again, and again. There’s a sequence in the first half of the film in which the entire cast dresses up as Mario Kart characters and competes in a real-life go-kart race. This sequence seems endless, will have you questioning why we are watching this for 7+ minutes, and encapsulates the pure insanity and ridiculousness of the film to perfection. On top of that, this horrible sequence is actually the highlight of the movie, since it’s the only thing you can actively watch and make fun of at the same time – where almost everything else is straight boring.
Whatever shred of a narrative the writers try to implement falls completely flat. They try to tie things together through following Elle’s (Joey King) relationship with Noah (Jacob Elordi), but the actual progression of their relationship is genuinely confusing. They’re boomeranging all over the place, going back and forth through various dramas to where their dynamic literally makes no sense from one scene to the next. Also, the struggle of Elle trying to select which College to go to is not a narrative. At best, it’s an end goal for the character – something to create inner conflict for the her that might allow for some growth – but certainly not the plot of the movie. As far as I’m concerned, this movie has no plot – it’s a collection of random scenes, music montages and pure nonsense from beginning to end.
The poor writing extends to the dialogue, which is atrocious. I don’t think the bulk of the performances are all that great, but the dialogue they have to work with feels like it was written by a kid who’s seen a bunch of shitty rom-coms, so decided to make their own. It all comes across so obviously forced, contrived and unnatural that it’s hard to buy into anything they’re saying. Whether the actors are delivering the lines in a serious manner, or hamming it up for comedic effect, it’s cringeworthy either way. On top of this, the movie needs you to root for Elle in order for anything to work. Being the lead, it’s crucial that she’s a likeable character to really make the journey an enjoyable one. However, Elle is by far the most unlikeable character in this movie. She comes across as selfish, inconsiderate and an overall sook – to the point where you end up hating her by the halfway point. It’s baffling to me that the lead role is written so poorly that she’s basically the antagonist of her own film.
To be clear, I don’t hold that against Joey King’s performance. She’s a solid actress and is fine in here, it’s just that she has absolutely nothing to work with. Not even the biggest A-list actors can take shit dialogue and turn it good – so Joey almost has no hope here. It’s not as strong of a performance as in the first and second films, but again, it’s hard to tell when the dialogue is this bad. Then there’s Jacob Elordi who could not be phoning it in any more than he is here. He either goes missing for multiple scenes or just sleepwalks through the scenes he has to be in. He’s fully checked out whenever he’s on screen – resulting in a severe lack of chemistry between he and Elle, the film’s central relationship. It’s abundantly clear that he does not want to be there, but is contractually obligated – and I don’t blame him, you’re supposed to run away from shitstorms. The rest of the cast is just there, even Joel Courtney is just playing up the silliness and doesn’t really add anything meaningful. Lastly, I still feel for Molly Ringwald, who’s had to be associated with this franchise for 3 films now.
In the end, I’m glad it’s all over. What should have lived and died as 1 film has become 2 films and an absolute trainwreck of a finale. One of the most shockingly-written films in recent memory, The Kissing Booth 3 offers nothing in terms of a cohesive, engaging story and fails to create any meaningful character arcs to follow. It’s almost 2 hours of random scenes and unconnected nonsense, complete with poor dialogue around every corner. Even the performances all fail to make an impact, resulting in the film having barely any redeeming qualities. Besides all of that, fans of the first two films should still watch this one because they’ll probably enjoy what it has to offer. I’m sure it plays well to its core audience, whoever that may be, and will be liked by them. Otherwise, it’s something that should be entirely avoided if possible.