This story discusses plot points and major spoilers from The Kissing Booth 2, now available for streaming on Netflix.
In the sequel to Netflix’s The Kissing Booth, out this weekend, fans finally get to tune into the second chapter of the love story of high school sweethearts Elle Evans (Joey King) and Noah Flynn (Jacob Elordi). But for me, part two of this teen romance is more thought-provoking than butterflies-in-the-stomach inducing, leading me to an unfortunate conclusion: Noah is not the kind of guy you want to end up with.
The premise of The Kissing Booth 2, much like that of the first film, is fairly straight-forward. After a summer of full-blown romance, the young lovers try to keep their relationship going while living on different coasts; Elle is wrapping up her senior year at her Los Angeles high school, and Noah is pushing through his freshman year at Harvard University even though we have never seen him study in the time we’ve known him. Long-distance relationships are always tough, but Elle and Noah think that their story will be different. Three thousand miles can’t be that big a deal.
But actually…they kind of are. The space between Elle and Noah inevitably creates a strain on their relationship, each teen struggling with new personal challenges; Mr. Popular is having a hard time adjusting to Ivy League life — like I said, we’ve literally never seen him reading a book before — and Elle’s anxiety about the possibility of her boyfriend’s playboy nature resurfacing increases with each passing day. It doesn’t help that the entire school thinks they broke up. Throw in the threat of potential new love interest Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez), who looks suspiciously similar to Noah but cuter and not living on the other side of the country, and we’ve got trouble in paradise. Things get more complicated as the couple gets their lines crossed, and honestly? Noah is to blame for a good deal of it.
Hear me out: When Noah moves to Boston, he does what most students do and immerses himself in campus culture. It takes him a minute to get settled in the new space, but Noah soon finds his place at Harvard, and in the process, he unintentionally alienates himself from his already insecure girlfriend.
Noah keeps secrets from Elle, secrets that he really doesn’t have to. He lies about where he’s been and who he’s been with, even after Elle expresses the fact that her insecurities about their relationship stem from the too-close friendship he’s struck with sophisticated classmate Chloe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers). In Noah’s mind, he’s playing his cards close so Elle won’t worry — he knows how bad it looks — but it’s deceitful nonetheless. The ends don’t justify the means.
To add insult to injury, Noah really wants Elle to apply to Harvard so they can be together again, as if it’s just that easy to get into the second-highest ranking university in the country. Still, it’s so much bigger than the difficulty of Harvard’s application process. Everyone knows that Elle’s dream is and has always been to attend UC Berkeley with her best friend and Noah’s brother Lee (Joel Courtney), but she might have to give that up if she wants to make things work with Noah.
When I was a teenager, I’m sure that I would have felt Elle’s pain. Just when she’s finally nabbed the boy of her dreams, her fledgling romance is attacked on all sides. It absolutely makes sense for her to be so desperate to make it work that she ignores the growing pit in her stomach and sits through multiple applications and even interviews for different schools in the Boston area so she can be near the love of her life — if you’re 18 years old, that is.
Unfortunately, I am now fully in my late twenties, which means that I have lived long enough and have dated enough to know that you never, ever derail your life plans for a man. Elle and Noah are teenagers, and though they’re in love right now, there’s a real possibility that things won’t last. Feelings change. People change. Boston winters are terrifying. Let me repeat: Do not give up on your dreams because of a man.
Shakespeare may have said that the course of true love never runs smooth, but read the room, Elle. You don’t feel comfortable or secure because you can’t trust anything he says. The people closest to you are skeptical about the trajectory of your relationship. You can feel yourself changing to make room for him in your life, doing all the things you never thought you would. These are red flags, baby girl…serious ones, too.
Of course, this is a rom-com about teenagers, so a few red flags cannot stand in the way of true love, and Elle and Noah’s bond is only strengthened by the challenges they face in The Kissing Booth 2. The film’s post-credits scene teases more mountains for the couple to scale in the near future; in a twist of fate, Elle gets accepted to both Harvard and UC Berkeley. She’s got the guy, she’s got the admissions letters — but what will she choose?
Spoiler alert: It will probably be the boy. Sigh.
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