Despite formulaic plot, Netflix’s ‘The Kissing Booth 2’ offers romantic scenery, catchy soundtrack

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Imaged posted with permission from Netflix.

Elle (Joey King) Evans returns in the sequel to ‘The Kissing Booth’ as she and Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez) lock eyes after their excellent display of chemistry while rehearsing on the Dance Dance Revolution machine.

Lauren Jung

Two years ago, the infamous mess of a romcom known as “The Kissing Booth” ended with Elle Evans (Joey King, “The Act”) confidently riding off into the sunset without fear of the future, and everyone thought that was the end of her story. However, she’s back in a sequel of the same title that’s worth the watch for viewers looking for formulaic, rom-com fun.

The more than two-hour sequel directed by Vince Marcello (“Liar, Liar, Vampire”) follows Elle as she prepares for college with her best friend, Lee Flynn (Joel Courtney, “Assimilate”), while also struggling to maintain her long-distance relationship with Noah Flynn (Jacob Elordi, “2 Hearts”). However, things take a turn for the worse when a dashing transfer student, Marco Peña (Taylor Zakhar Perez), arrives at school and develops feelings for Elle. 

She feels her trust in Noah diminishing because of a new girl he hangs out with and the lies he tells, and Elle eventually needs to make a choice between Noah and Marco. It’s a basic storyline in which a girl has to decide between two guys that can be seen in other romantic movies like “The Twilight Saga” or “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You.” 

Still, even with this cliche plot, the movie manages to portray heartfelt moments and engage with the audience much better than in the prequel. For instance, the director utilizes the natural lighting and aesthetic visuals of Los Angeles — such as the arcade on the pier, iconic Hollywood sign and bright sunlight — to create a romantic atmosphere and add depth to the characters.

Specifically, the scene depicting Elle and Marco on the sandy beach with the bright city lights shining in the background against the night sky effectively hooks the audience and makes it clear that Elle’s feelings are wavering.

Just as the film focuses on many visual aspects, it also makes full use of sound. The soundtrack features a total of 37 songs, including all the ones the Dance Dance Revolution machine plays — a pivotal motif throughout both movies. The indie-pop songs add an extra layer to the work and accompany the appealing visual effects.

The storyline also focuses less on the kissing booth aspect and gives the spotlight to the characters, their interactions and development.

Yet, at the core of the cinematography is a predictable, cookie cutter story. Most of the drama in the movie could have been easily resolved with thorough communication, and the film includes too many cheesy and outdated references, only succeeding in creating a muddled jumble made up of three different plotlines.

Altogether, “The Kissing Booth 2” — released July 24 — is a production that the audience can find themselves watching with anticipation, regardless of the sometimes unrealistic, overdone plot. 

It shockingly exceeds the expectations set by the original and is worth the watch if viewers are looking for a fun, casual activity to unwind from the stress of COVID-19 and being stuck at home.