Sometimes, it can seem that the only reminder that Netflix didn’t always own the teen rom-com market at the movies is the presence of Molly Ringwald as the Mom in the “Kissing Booth” movies.
The first film, back in 2018, announced the streaming service as the new King of the Teen Pic Mountain, with Joey King as their queen.
“The Kissing Booth 3” is, as you’d expect, one trip too many to the well that kept on giving with “Kissing Booth 2.” Everybody’s gotten older. The formula — affluent kids having affluent fun as they live it up before “college” and “growing up” — has been watered down.
Like the last years of TV’s “Friends,” they’ve kind of run out of ways to entangle and disentangle Elle Evans and her BFF Lee (Joel Courtney) and their separate-not-equal love lives.
And yet, here we are.
Elle is hung up on whether to follow beau Noah (Jacob Elordi) to Harvard or childhood chum Lee to UC-Berkley. Tough call. Either way, “I’ll make one of my two favorite people unhappy,” she narrates.
So she pretends she’s “wait-listed,” lies and prevaricates, decides and undecides.
And as Lee’s family is giving up their tony beach house, she and Noah and Lee and his girl Rachel (Meganne Young) shack up there for the summer, leaving time for Lee and Elle to live out a childhood “bucket list” that they discovered in all the packing up.
The bulk of this candy-colored, bikini-clothed overlong amble through the last days of “childhood” consists of parties, old rivalries and romances bubbling up and a string of musical montages accompanying “#14, Go cliff jumping,” “Learn to Juggle,” “Win a pie-eating contest,” or most amusingly, race go-karts while dressed as Super Mario Brothers, flinging balloons filled with Nickelodeon-grade “slime” at each other.
After three years of such movies, the audience for this trilogy has probably aged out of the story, and the third film isn’t really good enough to convince today’s 15 year-olds to check out the first two installments.
But it’s still good, clean “fun” and as harmless as it is high-tone and, by now, tone deaf (a world where money is no object and COVID does not exist). At least they have the good grace to officially wrap it all up in a way that leaves no room for sequels.
Or DO they?
MPA Rating: TV-14
Cast: Joey King, Joel Courtney, Jacob Elordi, Molly Ringwald, Taylor Zakhar Perez and
Credits: Directed by Vince Marcello, script by Vince Marcello and Jay s Arnold, based on the novels by Beth Reekles. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:54