Elle (Joey King) is in junior year at high school and has gotten herself into a tricky situation. From birth she has been best friends with Lee (Joel Courtney), but she has a crush on Lee’s older brother Noah (Jacob Elordi). Noah is extremely handsome, but he has anger issues and a reputation as a womaniser. And according to Elle’s and Lee’s friendship rules, siblings are off limits.
After Elle and Noah share a kiss in a kissing booth at a school carnival, they confess their mutual feelings for each other and start a secret relationship. Elle has a lot to think about: is bad boy Noah being serious? And how is she supposed to tell Lee without ruining their friendship?
Teenage romance; high school comedy; rich kid lifestyle; LA lifestyle; coming of age
The Kissing Booth has quite a lot of violence. For example:
- Noah is known for his short temper and violent outbursts. He often tries to resolve conflict through intimidation, physical dominance and violence.
- Noah punches another boy in the face with his fist, pushes him to the ground and keeps punching him in a mindless rage until someone pulls him away.
- Noah violently slams another boy on the ground.
- Noah threatens to use violence and has to be held back on other occasions.
- Noah and Lee get into a physical fight. Lee hits Noah in the face, and they end up wrestling on the ground.
The Kissing Booth has numerous sexual references. For example:
- Characters frequently talk about whether they have ‘made out’ or slept with people.
- It’s implied that Noah has frequent flings and sexual encounters with different girls.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Kissing Booth shows frequent use of substances. For example:
- Although many characters are under the legal drinking age, they often consume alcohol. Often they consume too much.
- Elle gets very drunk. She’s out of control, drunk, dancing on a table, undressing herself, and planning to go skinny dipping in a pool.
- Elle is hungover the next day.
- Characters have drinking games and binge-drink.
Nudity and sexual activity
The Kissing Booth has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Elle is shown in swimwear and also in her underwear (bra and slip) several times.
- When Elle gets drunk, she strips to her underwear and wants to go ‘skinny dipping’, but she’s stopped.
- Elle ends up in her bra in the male change room and struts around in a sexy/teasing manner.
- Characters kiss passionately.
- It’s implied that Elle and Noah have sex on their first proper date.
- Elle and Noah kiss passionately and touch each other intimately in several scenes, including at school.
- Lee hears Elle moaning while she’s having sex with Noah. When Lee confronts her, Elle claims that she was just watching porn, as if this is a common thing for teenagers to do. Lee is intrigued and says he wants to join.
- Elle buys condoms.
There’s no product placement in The Kissing Booth.
The Kissing Booth has frequent coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Kissing Booth is a teenage romantic comedy based on Beth Reekle’s novel of the same title. It’s packed with slapstick humour and stereotypes of rich Los Angeles white high school students.
Although this movie is marketed as a sweet and funny teenage romantic comedy, it presents several issues of serious concern. These include the following:
- Excessive alcohol consumption among teenagers is presented as normal, harmless and even desirable. For example, teenagers host massive parties at home while their parents are away, or at a beach with no adult supervision. The worst consequence seems to be a hangover.
- The movie has some sexist elements. For example, a boy smacks Elle on her bottom as a direct response to her wearing a short skirt.
- Noah behaves in jealous and controlling ways. Sometimes this happens behind Elle’s back, when he tells other boys to stay away from her unless they want to end up with a broken nose. Sometimes it happens directly, when he tells her what she can and can’t do. Noah seems to get away with this behaviour because of his good looks and ‘sexy smirk’, and also because Elle hopes that he can change.
- The movie normalises behaviour like watching porn and being sexually active in public places including at school.
Because of these issues, along with frequent coarse language, The Kissing Booth isn’t suitable for children under 16 years. If your older teenagers do watch this movie, it might be good to talk about these issues with them afterwards.
The main messages from The Kissing Booth are that you shouldn’t sneak around behind people’s backs and lie to your best friend, at least not for too long. But the movie also suggests that ultimately you have to do what’s most important to you.
The Kissing Booth mostly offers a guide to how not to be behave. As such, it does highlight some values that you could reinforce with your children, including responsible behaviour, respectful behaviour, accountability, honesty, friendship and conflict resolution.
The Kissing Booth could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things like the following:
- Excessive alcohol consumption: this can lead to problems like unprotected sex, drowning accidents and so on.
- Violent behaviour as a response to conflict: Noah explains his anger issues and lack of self-control by saying ‘I guess it’s kind of just how I’m wired’ and adds that he has been to counselling but obviously with little success. He concludes, ‘We’re all f--d up one way or another, right?’ Elle suggests that maybe he could change. In real life, Noah would need much more support to manage his emotional and behaviour issues.
- Intimacy: Elle goes from having ‘never kissed a guy’ to ‘going all the way’ within a few days. You might want to talk with your children about taking their time with sexual relationships, especially if children have doubts about the other person’s integrity, intentions and readiness to commit.