The Kissing Booth 3 has it all: youthful abandon, whimsy, heartache and the stress that comes with making pivotal decisions in life. We may not all be Elle Evans (Joey King), trying to choose between top-tier schools like Harvard and Berkeley, but there’s a universal understanding of what it means to make a decision that will impact the rest of our lives. If you’re looking for a simple, feel-good movie that makes you smile, try The Kissing Booth’s first two installments. If you’re looking for a sincere, more mature installment, The Kissing Booth 3 might make you shed unexpected tears.
The narrative of the film feels similar to the previous two movies: Elle and her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) playfully enjoy life until they find an old bucket list they created as kids. Because Elle made up her mind to attend Harvard with her boyfriend Noah Flynn (Jacob Elordi), his brother Lee is absolutely devastated. See, Elle and Lee were childhood friends, and the two planned on attending Berkeley together ever since they were kids. In order to make it up to Lee, Elle decides the two of them will complete every single thing on the list.
It’s amusing watching Elle and Lee accomplish all of their youthful hopes and dreams, from jumping off a cliff to starting a flash mob at a fancy, upscale restaurant, to drinking as many slushies as they can until they get brain freeze. All of these moments oddly reminded me of the Disney Channel Original Movies I watched as a kid, but after further reflection, all of that childlike fun in this movie feels intentional.
In a way, The Kissing Booth 3 takes the audience along as Elle and Lee and even Noah grow up.
The characters go from teenagers who just want to have fun to serious young adults ready to start a new chapter in their lives. And it was absolutely heart-wrenching to watch. The idea of getting older and venturing into the unknown can sound unsettling at first. The “unknown” may just be college to Elle and Lee, but it’s also putting their childhood behind them, moving away from everything they’ve ever known, and starting new lives for themselves.
Nostalgia is the foundation of Kissing Booth 3. Not only does Elle have to make the choice between Harvard and Berkeley, but also the Flynn Beach house that Elle, Lee, and Noah practically grew up in is going up for sale. So, while Elle has to make a huge life-altering decision in her life, she also has to say goodbye to many aspects of the world she’s come to know: either Noah or Lee (Noah if she chooses Berkeley, Lee if she chooses Harvard,) and all of her heartfelt memories associated with the beach house.
From cleaning up the toys, to showing the younger versions of Elle and Lee faded in the background as Lee drives off to college, to even the measuring height wall in the beach house, all of these small aspects of the movie add to the sentimental value.
But the movie is more than just nostalgia.
Elle fulfilling her bucket list with Lee complicates her relationship with Noah. Because Elle’s spending every minute she’s not working with Lee, she finds herself more distanced from Noah. Not to mention Marco’s in the area (Taylor Zakhar Perez,) the boy Elle kissed in The Kissing Booth 2, when she falsely thought Noah was cheating on her.
While Elle seems to be on the outskirts with Noah at one point in the movie, which was disappointing to see, we do see where their relationship stands in the final scene. As with Marco, I’m glad The Kissing Booth 3 explores this love triangle without leaving the viewer feeling unsatisfied, and Elle makes up her mind on who—or really, what—she wants.
My favorite part of The Kissing Booth 3 is its mature message. Elle spends so much time worrying which school to pick—Berkeley for Lee or Harvard for Noah?—that she fails to recognize what she wants herself. Mrs. Flynn (Molly Ringwald,) Elle’s mother-figure, gives her some important advice: do what you want, not what others want you to do.
The Kissing Booth 3 ends with a years-later epilogue. It would have been nice exploring both Elle and Lee’s college life in a fourth installment, but the epilogue pretty much makes that impossible now, since we know what paths all of the characters took. Elle certainly matures, and so does Lee and Noah. I’ve always liked epilogues in stories, so watching Elle and the rest of the characters get a proper ending was satisfying.
The Kissing Booth 3 wraps up its storyline well.
We got all of the answers needed from Elle, Lee, Noah, and all of the other minor characters. We learn the fate of Lee and Rachel’s relationship, which was a little rocky at times, and Elle gets a conclusion befitting her arc over all three films, finally having clarity in what she wants in her future life.
Ultimately, these stories have been all about friendship, and that’s remained true until the very end. Life may not have turned out the way these characters expected, but it was enjoyable seeing Elle succeed in her future endeavors. What started off as a fun, youthful movie on Netflix turned into a touching, tear-inducing story. If you like heartfelt movies with a bunch of romance, The Kissing Booth 3 may be the perfect film for you.
The Kissing Booth 3 will start streaming on Netflix Aug. 11. Check out the official trailer here.