Like a scoop of vanilla ice cream atop scoops of chocolate and strawberry, “The Kissing Booth 3” rounds out the sugary teen trilogy with a fitting, if bland, finale. The story picks up after high school graduation, as Elle (Joey King) and her bestie, Lee (Joel Courtney), gear up for college. In “The Kissing Booth” extended universe, this means moving into an oceanfront mansion and spending days ticking items off an elaborate summer bucket list. (If Elle and Lee were on TikTok, Hype House would have some competition.)
As Elle’s ever-dreamy beau, Noah (Jacob Elordi), watches from the sidelines, she and Lee initiate a flash mob, splash down a waterslide and, in the movie’s most cartoonish set piece, organize a real-life Mario Kart-like competition with go-karts speeding around a racetrack. A medley of scheduling stresses, family angst and relationship triangles ignite minor growing pains. But among lengthy montages of fun in the sun, worries are brief.
As in the first two movies, wish fulfillment characterizes “The Kissing Booth 3,” which displays the ultimate aspirational teen lifestyle: adoring hunks, luxury pool parties, white-sand “California” beaches (all three movies were filmed in South Africa). But when it comes to gender dynamics, the director Vince Marcello makes significant strides. By the story’s conclusion, Elle breaks away from the surrounding men. She develops a sense of self and some career ambitions. Nobody would call it a seminal moment for feminism. But at least there’s not another kissing booth.
The Kissing Booth 3
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 52 minutes. Watch on Netflix.
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