Elle Evans is ready to have the perfect summer with her closest friends. She’s got her Harvard boyfriend, Noah Flynn; her best friend in the world and Noah’s younger brother, Lee Flynn; and of course, Lee’s girlfriend, Rachel.
Elle, Lee and Rachel are all ready for college once summer fades away. Lee is headed to Berkeley, and he’s expecting Elle to do the same. After all, they’ve had a list of best-friend rules they’ve lived by since they were in elementary school. And one of those rules is going to university with your bestie.
But Elle has a tough choice to make. She’s been accepted to both Harvard and Berkeley. She can’t decide if she should follow her boyfriend or her best friend. So, instead of making an immediate decision, Elle procrastinates and tells Lee that they’re going to have the bucket-list summer they’ve always dreamed of having.
Sounds like a good plan. Except, balancing your best friend and boyfriend is tough. And Elle is about to find out just how difficult it is to keep everyone happy … especially when she can’t even do that for herself.
Elle learns to make better choices, to move forward in life and to cherish memories while also transitioning into new phases. Elle’s pseudo-mom encourages her to go after what she truly wants and to stop making decisions driven by trying to make others happy.
Elle’s father expects her to pull her own weight at home and to continue with her responsibilities throughout the summer. He also tells Elle that everyone makes mistakes, but it’s what you do after making them that shows your true character.
Elle is rude and disrespectful to her father and his girlfriend, but she later apologizes for her behavior. Lee and Elle both struggle to be good friends to one another; but in the end, they work things out.
Many characters are faced with making difficult decisions and grow personally because of their decisions.
Rachel tells Lee that if they’re meant to be, they will “find” each other.
After a fight, Noah and Elle “make up.” We see the two of them in the dark and in bed; Noah is in boxers, and Elle is underneath of him. Elle says that she and Noah destroyed their “naughty video” of the two of them having sex in Chemistry class (we only see them make out on a table via video). Elle grabs Noah’s hand and leads him away to have sex (again, we don’t see anything here, but it is insinuated). Noah asks Elle if she wants to move in with him.
Couples make out, kiss hold hands and flirt. Also, teenage couples stay alone at a beach house, sleeping with their significant other in bed. Girls wear bikinis and guys wear swim trunks at the beach.
A guy named Marco punches Noah in the face. Noah and Marco also race go-karts, and Noah runs Marco off the track.
The s-word is heard twice (in the end credits, this word is heard more. Similarly, the f-word is bleeped out in the end credits). We hear the phrase “oh my God” more than 10 times. Other profanities include “h—,” “son of a b–ch,” “b–ches,” “a–hole” and “d–n.”
Noah, Elle, Lee and Rachel all throw a beach party. Teens drink all sorts of alcohol, play beer pong and get drunk. Parents and teens attend other parties where alcohol is present.
Noah is jealous and manipulative when Elle talks with a guy who is interested in her. He also sulks when he doesn’t get his way and is, generally, a bad sport and overly possessive. However, when Noah talks with other girls, he expects that Elle won’t get jealous, and that she’ll willingly deal with all his tantrums. He also tells Elle that she is “embarrassingly naïve.”
Noah’s parents allow their sons, Noah and Lee, to stay all summer, alone in a beach house with their girlfriends. A girl seeks to leave her home after spending all summer with her parents, who loudly argue and later get divorced.
The overwhelming majority of the characters in this film indulge in unhealthy behaviors, such as unchecked jealousy, for instance.
By the time a franchise gets to its third installment, there’s not much mystery about what’s likely to happen. And it’s true this time around, too, with Netflix’s The Kissing Booth 3.
This movie picks up where the second one left off. Here, we see Elle still in a relationship with Noah. Still best friends with Lee. And still trying to decide what she wants in life … especially before the summer is over and college begins.
Elle learns a lot about herself, learns to assert her voice (sort of), makes better choices (for the most part), apologizes when she needs to and even lets a toxic relationship come to an end (round of applause here).
That’s the good stuff. On the other hand, we’ve still got this series’ problematic worldview to deal with—especially when it comes to sex. We see fewer references to that this time around, which is to the movie’s credit. But there’s still the overarching assumption that teens and young adults having sex and living together is totally normal and should be widely accepted.
Toss in parents acting immaturely themselves and this is hardly a story that paints marriage and parenting in a positive light. Parents’ boundaries—or lack thereof—are practically as poor as their teen children’s failures in this area. Critical thinking is something missing from almost every character here.
In the end, The Kissing Booth 3 may have fewer issues than the two movies that have proceeded it. And there are some sweet moments of personal growth here, especially with Elle’s character. But this movie’s occasional sweetness is once again undermined by its permissive assumptions about teen relationships and sex—in a story that’s aimed directly at teens themselves.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).