The Kissing Booth 2 (2020)

Originally released on Netflix on July 24, 2020

Welcome back, everyone! As always, if you haven’t seen the film yet, this is your warning that there are spoilers in this review. 

Last week I reviewed Midsommar (2019) and I am almost relieved that this week’s topic is a lot lighter. The Kissing Booth 2 (2020) picks up where we left off in the last film, with Elle Evans (Joey King) explaining how the last few months had gone for her and Noah (Jacob Elordi) after finishing the school year. They spent the summer at Noah’s parents’ beach house, until it was time that he left for Harvard. Elle made the choice that they were probably going to end because of the distance, so she didn’t want to be that girlfriend that didn’t give him any space, so she focused on hanging out with Lee (Joel Courtney) and his girlfriend Rachel (Meganne Young).

Senior year begins with Elle paying tribute to her junior year start, with the lack of needing the back ups to her back ups. Upon their arrival to school, everyone is staring at Elle as though something terrible has happened to her, and she finds out it is because they all just assumed that her relationship with Noah was over because he moved away. Now it wouldn’t be a teen rom-com without possible new love interests coming into the picture. On Noah’s end, it is Chloe Winthrop (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and for Elle it is Marco V. Peña (Taylor Zakhar Perez), and suddenly the stage is set for one of the main arcs of the storyline to form. Another important point to note, is that Lee and Elle have planned to go to UC Berkeley since they were kids, but Noah convinces Elle to apply to Harvard, so that they could be closer to each other again and suddenly we as the audience are left to wonder whether Elle learned her lesson about keeping secrets in the last film. 

Elle visits Noah in Boston, and all is well until she meets Chloe and her own insecurities flair up, this met with the fact she finds a stray earring under Noah’s bed while she is packing to return home, plant the seeds of their relationship turmoil for the remainder of the movie. Here lies the issue: Elle doesn’t tell Noah right away that she found the earring, and when she does, and he swears nothing is happening, she chooses to believe him instead of talking to him about where the earring could have come from. Noah, knowing she’s already feeling insecure, begins to lie to her about his friendship with Chloe in the hopes of not arguing about it anymore, but the lack of communication on both of their ends was a recipe for disaster from the very beginning. On the other side of the storyline is that Elle needs money to go to college, so she and Lee join this Dance Dance Revolution contest, which begins taking up all of their time, causing more of a strain on Lee and Rachel’s relationship because Rachel doesn’t want Elle there all the time. Lee, instead of talking to Elle about this, pretends to hurt his ankle and gets her to team up with the new student, Marco, who just so happens to be really good at the game as well. Then obviously, Marco and Elle grow closer right before our very eyes, there’s even a montage of Noah and Elle growing closer to their prospective love interests. 

Rachel explodes on Elle at the Halloween dance, believing that Elle was told by Lee to give them space but chose not to. Thanksgiving rolls around, and everything seemingly falls apart. Elle and Marco participate in the competition, and they even up kissing on stage, in front of Noah, who Elle wasn’t aware showed up to support her. Lee found Elle’s application to Harvard, and grows angry that she kept it from him. Rachel still isn’t speaking to Elle, and to make matters far worse, Noah brings Chloe home with him, and they are all sitting at the table at Thanksgiving together. Heated words are exchanged, Noah realizes what conclusion Elle came to when finding the earring and finding out that it belonged to Chloe, and how it must have looked to her, but he doesn’t try and explain to her what the truth was. Chloe is actually the voice of reason for him, and explains things to him from the perspective of Elle. In the end, Elle has a conversation with Marco at the kissing booth, about how she loves Noah and she leaves to go find him. Unfortunately, he also left to go find her and they end up in different places. Chloe and Elle share a heart to heart, and Noah and Elle reconcile at the gazebo from the first film. Months pass, and Lee, Rachel and Elle are graduating, and it is after the ceremony that Lee and Noah ask Elle if she received her application decisions. As Marco is watching her from afar, admitting that he still believes she is worth it, she tells them that she was waitlisted to both universities, but we the audience learn afterwards that she was accepted into both, and the sequel film has been laid out for us. Will Elle go to Berkeley with Lee, or will she go to Harvard with Noah? 

The movie’s plot was pretty transparent from the very beginning, though at one point I thought that Chloe’s character was going to fit the stereotype that she was the reason an earring was found, because she wanted to sabotage the relationship between Elle and Noah. It was nice to see that Chloe and Noah were only just friends, but on that same train of thought, if they were just friends, I do think that all the little looks we as the audience watch Chloe make throughout the film, definitely did not scream platonic. That could have easily just been to throw us off course, and it worked since I wasn’t expecting them to have a relationship that could be parallel to Lee and Elle (without the years of history between them.) Another plot twist was when we find out that Elle was actually accepted into the both; the moment we learn this fact, I knew there was going to be another film. 

One thing that stuck out to me during my rewatch of both films, is the striking lack of diversity. Apart from Chloe, Marco and one of the football players, I did not see many people of color given any screen time. In this film however, there was a gay couple that we saw coming together throughout the film, which I could appreciate because the school’s acceptance of them was heartwarming, and that particular storyline, no matter how small, wasn’t treated as a punchline. I think the producers and casting directors could do better. It reminded me far too much of P.S. I Still Love You (2020) where the new love interest is shown to have a lot more personality than the original, only to be tossed aside for the original. Though, side note, I do see bits of Noah in Marco, due to the fact he can be seen being impulsive and rash at the homecoming game when he chose to talk to Noah. Do I still like Noah and Elle? Of course, but I also really liked the dynamic between Elle and Marco, it didn’t seem like she had to change anything about herself. I’m interested to see where the story goes because I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Marco, and of course I want to know where Elle decides to go. Personally, I’m hoping for Berkeley because it would be easier on her dad financially, and because it has always been her dream. 

Have any of you seen the film? What are your thoughts? 

You Season 2 (2019)

If you haven’t watched the season 2 of You, then you may not like reading this considering all of the spoilers.

Last season ended with a moment between Candace (Ambyr Childers) and Joe (Penn Badgley) where she tells him that they had some unfinished business to attend to, leaving a confused and slightly alarmed Joe. This season, we learn that he actually thought she was dead, having left her buried in the dirt somewhere after she tried to leave him. This means that Beck (Elizabeth Lail) wasn’t the first love interest of his that he killed, and while we already knew that he was a deranged killer, we can now definitively say that while he believes he is acting out of love, the moment the object of his desire goes bad in his eyes, they are also not safe.

Candace’s goal this season was to get Joe to see that he is evil, that he is the bad guy, and actually feel remorse for his actions. She doesn’t want to just send him to jail, or to kill him, she wants to break the very fragment that his sanity depends on. She wants to force him to see himself for what he really is, a damaged man who has done horrible deeds.

This season, Joe has moved to Los Angeles and after kidnapping the real Will Bettelheim (Robin Lord Taylor), a guy who can create fake i.ds, and new lives for people, Joe takes his name and keeps him in his own glass cage. This time though, Joe doesn’t want to kill Will. He wants to know that he can trust him, and strangely enough, despite knowing who Joe is, Will wants to be his friend and even after he has been set free and is living in the Philippines with his wife, he still lets Joe contact him. He sees the good in Joe, and believes that Joe is capable of making good choices and refraining from killing people.

Joe’s attention is drawn to Love Quinn (Victoria Pedretti), and while in the beginning, he doesn’t want this to turn into his obsession with Beck but when Love pursues him, he finds himself unable to deny her. Now, without delving into every single detail in this season, I want to point out that Joe really met his match in Love, because even when she finds out what he has done, who he is, instead of turning away from him in disgust, she kills for him– to protect him. As it turns out, she has killed before. When she was younger, she killed the au pair, Sofia, (Brooke Johnson) who Forty, her brother (James Scully), was with. In the end, Forty finds out who Joe really is, and what he is capable of, and turns against him in hopes of saving his sister but when his sister defends the man she loves, Forty tells her that she is crazy and aims a gun at Joe’s head. In a twist of fate, Officer Fincher (Danny Vasquez) shoots Forty, believing him to be the bad guy.

Let’s turn out attention to Love for a moment. As it turns out, she did what Joe usually does, she worked to make him fall in love with her, claiming that she saw who he really was almost immediately. She points out that while she was really looking at him, he only saw what he wanted to see, a perfect girl that he could protect and take care of. I liked Love’s character, even though she’s obviously crazy too, but I found her to be really interesting. Despite the fact that Candace didn’t survive to see the fruits of her labor, Joe did come to realize he was the bad guy. He had to confront himself in Love, and the way her actions made him feel. But Love is pregnant, and with that, Joe wants to make things work with her, for their child.

The season ends with Joe and Love living in a house somewhere amidst the suburbia, where Joe is spying on the neighbor next door, addressing her in a way that tells us that she will be the one he pursues in the coming season. My theory? Love won’t like that one bit and will either kill the woman, or try and kill Joe. I also believe that Joe will come across another child that he feels needs his protection, because that seems to be his go-to as well. However, I would like to see the kids of the previous season somehow make it to Joe, just because I want to see what comes of them.

I believe I said this about last season, but I enjoy this show because all of the characters are not simply one-dimensional. They are multi-faceted, with flaws mixing into the positive characteristics. While my opinion of Joe and Love is clear, that they are murderers who have found each other, there are still moments in which they are characters that people can find moments of themselves in; their sentiments, their need to protect and care for the people that they love. While most people wouldn’t go about this need the way that the two lovebirds do, it’s a need that can be understood to a certain extent.

Overall, I really enjoy watching this show and I like that the seasons are bite-size with only 10 episodes. Just enough to give us a good chunk of the overall story, but short enough that it doesn’t feel as though any of the points are being dragged on.

What did you guys think of the second season? Better than the first? The same as the first? Tell me down below! Also, if you haven’t had the chance yet, you can find my on instagram at @stardustandsilverlinings

You Season 1 (2018)

Originally aired in 2018

If you haven’t watched season 1, this review will be filled to the brim with spoilers.

Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) meets Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) during a chance meeting at Mooney’s Bookstore, where he is the manager. After this meeting, he begins stalking her, rationalizing it as his way to make sure she won’t break his heart like his last girlfriend did. Soon, he finds out that she is in a messy on-and-off again relationship with a guy named Benji (Lou Taylor Pucci), whom he subsequently kills after keeping him hostage in a glass cage underneath the bookstore. This is the first of many kills this season, and he rationalizes all of it in the beginning by claiming that he was doing everything for the well-being of Beck.

In this season he kills:

-Peach Salinger (Shay Mitchell); Beck’s wealthy best friend that Joe learns is also obsessed with Beck, and during a confrontation, he shoots and kills her and proceeds to frame it as a suicide.
-Elijah (Esteban Benito); We see in a flashback that he kills Elijah for sleeping with Candace, Joe’s then-girlfriend. Though Elijah explained that he had no idea that Candace was with someone.
-Ron (Daniel Cosgrove); He’s the abusive boyfriend of Joe’s neighbor Claudia (Victoria Cartagena), whom Joe kills when he comes home to find that Paco (Luca Padovan) has attacked him with a bat and is now in danger of the repercussion.
-Beck; When she finds out that he is a murderer, he keeps her in the same cage he kept Benji, hoping she will come to see that he did everything for her. She doesn’t, and he kills her and uses her manuscript that explains everything that happened–including the murders, to frame Dr. Nicky (John Stamos) for everything.

I was hooked from the first episode, there is undoubtedly something unnerving about Joe’s character. Fun fact, I work in a library, specifically in archives, so I enjoyed whenever he talked about the process of preserving books. He is a serial killer, but what makes him even scarier is the way that he sees it all as necessary for his end goal. That end goal originally being to win Beck’s affection, only to shift to his survival by killing Beck and framing Dr. Nicky. We learn about his upbringing, and how he got to be the manager of the bookstore, by showing how Mooney (Mark Blum) used to lock him in the glass cage when he did something that was deemed wrong. These scenes can cause us to feel sympathetic, but at the end of the day, he’s still a murderer.

This show also highlights the role of social media in how effective it can be as a tool in stalking people. Joe was able to find out about Beck, what her interests were, and more specifically, where she was. He takes this a step farther by stealing her phone and using it to read her conversations in order to stay up to date with what Beck was up to and what she thought of him.

Let’s talk about Beck for a moment. By no means, did she deserve to be killed but she wasn’t free of flaws herself. None that reached the extent of Joe’s flaws, but she did gaslight him when he accused her of cheating with her therapist even though she was. When they broke up and he started dating Karen Minty (Natalie Paul), Joe was actually happy and without the urges to commit homicide but Beck grows to miss him and subsequently works to come between their relationship. It takes two to have an affair but she definitely played a part in initiating it. I didn’t like Beck all that much, but I felt for her the entire time because she was so blissfully unaware of Joe’s true nature.

This show grips the audiences’ attention and keeps it, and manages to show the main character as more than just a serial killer, he is a broken human that never got the psychological help that he needed to deal with the cards that life has dealt him. Though, this doesn’t excuse his actions. I really want to emphasize that; just because he himself was mistreated, does not mean we should disregard the fact he has killed people.

What did you guys think of season 1? Have you guys watched season 2? That’s next on my list.

Always Be My Maybe

Taken from the IMBD page for the movie

This movie for the past couple of months has been on my radar but it was always passed up for something else–not to say it didn’t appeal to me but there was always something else that took my attention away. So last week I finally sat down and I watched it. This was during the span of days where I was watching 1-2 movies a day, just out of boredom and having a long list of movies I wanted to get to.

This was a really cute movie and one that I felt was very relatable. A boy and girl who grew up together end up sleeping together and the safe little world they had created around them implodes. It’s a really tough scene to watch because he’s dealing with the sudden loss of his mother and she is trying to be there for him but he lashes out, as one tends to do when they are feeling so many intense emotions all at once. They don’t reconnect until much much later when she is a successful chef who travels from place to place, and is engaged to a guy that doesn’t really care about her at all. She ends up leaving her fiancé and begins dating again. This leads to another messy situation occurs that involves them going on a double date, her date being Keanu Reeves playing Keanu Reeves. Having the actual celebrity playing themselves makes for a really interesting experience because it makes the scene that much more realistic with just a touch of melodrama. (John Wick gets punched in the face, it’s awesome.)

Throughout the entire movie we’re watching two people realize that they love each other, with one of them taking a lot longer to realize that he was messing everything up by not wanting anything to change. He’s part of a band that he almost wrecks everything for because he gets really drunk before an audition but ultimately he turns his life around and even begins to leave her voice messages saying that he wants her back and that he is oh so happy that his merchandise for the band is finally selling. He later finds out she was buying everything under a fake name because despite everything; she still loved him and wanted him to be successful. She had his back. He just had to grow up and realize what he wanted and not hold himself back any longer.

Ali Wong plays her role brilliantly, she plays an unapologetic business woman who goes for what she wants and isn’t afraid to speak her mind if something doesn’t sit right with her. Randall Park plays his role really well, he encapsulated what it feels like to have the rug pulled out from under you and he showed how hard it could be to get back up, but that you have to do it. If not for anyone else, get up for you. The two of them meshed really well on screen and it made their love story believable.

What did you guys think of the movie? Leave me your thoughts down below!