Netflix’s The Kissing Booth 2 stars, Joey King and Joel Courtney, on rom-coms, life’s biggest lessons, and more

Netflix’s The Kissing Booth 2 stars, Joey King and Joel Courtney, on rom-coms, life’s biggest lessons, and more

Matters of the heart

Text: Emily Heng

Perhaps it's presumptuous to attribute Netflix's success to giving the viewers exactly what they want, but it's hard not to draw conclusions when you're faced with a ton of empirical evidence. Off the top of our heads: you can request for specific TV shows and films; request for help via a live chat function; and even create separate viewer profiles to consume your desired content, judgement-free. It stands to reason, then, that Netflix would hear Chrissy Teigen's — and thus, our — pleas for more original rom-com material. And boy, did they deliver. Most notably with The Kissing Booth, a gooey-sweet coming-of-age tale that deals with the trials and tribulations of school, crushes, and growing pains.

In case you missed it, the film debuted in 2018, and became Netflix's most re-watched original film of the year. Centering around the 16-year-old Elle Evans and her budding romance with her best friend's brother, Noah Flynn, the production has been lauded for its utter sincerity in portraying teenagers in love. It comes as no surprise, then, that a sequel was confirmed almost immediately after its release. The Kissing Booth 2 will be released globally on 24 July, and will address the after in Elle's happily ever after. What can we look forward to from the sequel? We sit down with stars, Joey King and Joel Courtney, to get some insight.

How do you feel your characters have changed in the sequel?
Joey: I think Elle has changed in a way where she's going through things she's never gone through before. This is her first real relationship, and suddenly it comes long distance, and it's like, whoa! [Laughs] And she's dealing with all these new emotions that she's never felt before, like jealousy and lust for somebody else. She's just going through a lot. But she grows, so much! Even when she makes all these mistakes, we — and the audience — can't help but love her because she's so human.
Joel: And for Lee, I'd say it's just one of those things where... he's a young guy, you know? He's growing up, he's in his first real relationship, so he's making mistakes and learning from them. He's learning, and then applying it to his life to make it better.

What is the biggest lesson you hope your viewers can take away from The Kissing Booth 2?
Joey: There's so many lessons to take away from this movie. But the biggest is that it's okay to make mistakes, it's okay to mess up a little bit. Honestly, on a less serious note, my favourite part of watching this movie was seeing Elle and Lee's friendship be as hilarious and sweet and goofy as ever, because it's truly just how Joel and I are on set. It's truly fun to watch and remember all the memories that we made.
Joel: I'd say one of the biggest takeaways is to step away and see the other person's perspective. Beyond that, it's all about communicating and love. And also, to be kind. I think those are some of the biggest lessons I took from this movie. It's always good to understand where another person is coming from so that you can have a gauge of their perspective — like what they see — so you can handle situations the best that you can.

Lastly, what do you guys hope to see more of from the rom-com genre?
Joey: I, personally, hope to see more diversity; more inclusivity of minorities and current themes while still staying true to the rom-com beauty that everyone knows and loves.
Joel: I really want for rom-coms to be as realistic as possible. I think it's one of those things that The Kissing Booth is so sweet about like... it is that it is so heartwarming because the heartbreak is so painful. I love the honesty of a hard situation and as a young person, the feeling of just being really confused about how to deal with something. It's like where you feel that there's no way out. I love that kind of honesty in rom-coms. And then like, a total happy ending where everyone lives happily ever after. [Laughs]

The Kissing Booth 2 starts streaming on Netflix on 24 July.