This past week saw the release of two dramatically different approaches to teenage coming of age stories.
Netflix’s “The Kissing Booth 2” is a sequel to a film that had some teenagers in some adult-like situations. The new one tones down those scenarios, appearing to more actively target its high school audience in a wholesome way.
Appearing on Video on Demand, “Yes, God, Yes” definitely won’t be something you can play at the church youth group meeting (unless it’s a really progressive, new age church).
Only one of these will likely appeal to adults, the other is strictly for the young’uns
“Yes, God, Yes” (US-rated R)
Cast: Natalia Dyer, Timothy Simons, Wolfgang Novogratz
Being a teenager surely ain’t easy!
Everybody knows that – especially with hundreds of movies and TV series dedicated to documenting and demonstrating this every year.
And while there have been many movies that focus on the sexual awakenings of teenagers, the sly wit of “Yes, God, Yes” makes this an exceptionally fun and fresh experience.
Set in the early 2000s, Alice, a Catholic girl in the Midwest, finds herself having tempting thoughts after an AOL (yes, America Online – remember that?) chat turns unexpectedly racy.
While this is about teenagers, some of the raunchy material may not be entirely appropriate for all teenagers. However, we see everything from Alice’s confused and innocent point of view, adding to the hilarity to most of the situations. Natalia Dyer (Netflix’s “Stranger Things”) as Alice is superb, as is the rest of the supporting cast.
With some clever jabs at the Catholic Church and school system, and at hypocrisy and double standards, in general, “Yes, God, Yes” should delight adults who are relieved they are far removed from their teenage years and never want to go back.
“The Kissing Booth 2” (US-rated TV-14)
Cast: Joey King, Jacob Elordi, Joel Courtney, Taylor Zakhar Perez
Genre: Romantic comedy
Did you know there was a “The Kissing Booth” part one?
If your answer is yes, then you likely watched that 2018 movie, and are inclined to watch the second instalment of this romantic comedy.
But if you’re like me and had never even heard of the thing, then you might be disgusted by the thought of spending time watching a movie about teenage love.
After seeing a preview for “The Kissing Booth 2”, something told me that I’d better watch the first one, which I did. And yes, sitting through the original is highly recommended, should you, for some reason, need to watch this.
But if you can’t be bothered, or if you just need a refresher… In the original, teenage Elle’s first kiss leads to a forbidden romance with Noah, the hottest boy in high school, risking her relationship with her best friend.
The second one picks up after their romantic summer together. Noah is off to Harvard, and Elle heads back to high school for her senior year. With college decisions looming, Elle juggles her long-distance romance with Noah, the changing relationship with her bestie and feelings for a new classmate.
Okay. So, while the first film deals with a lot of sexual situations, the second one is a lot more sappy-and-sentimental, and definitely toned down in its content.
In full disclosure, while both these movies are incredibly cheesy, the original is actually not entirely horrible. “Cute” might be the best way to describe it. It’s certainly not entirely original, but it is a lot more interesting than this sequel, which seems to have decided that the young teen audience needs to see less sex and more angst. A case can be made for that, but that doesn’t mean it should be dull, right?
But even though it lacks the energy of the original, if you do start watching (especially if you begin with the first film), just like with lame soapy TV series, you’ll want to stick around to see what happens to these characters, even if these are largely predictable tales.
Joey King (“Ramona and Beezus”) as Elle is the best thing about this whole franchise. Her presence on the screen goes a long way to making the whole experience adequate. This young actress is destined for greatness. She just turned 21 yesterday, and has already been nominated for a Lead Actress Emmy (“The Act”). She can do comedy and drama. Remember her name!
If you do decide to enter “The Kissing Booth 2”, know that it is afflicted with the Netflix curse – and a very bad case of it indeed. There is no reason on the planet why this movie has to be 2 hours and 14 minutes long.
And there’s also no reason why there needs to be a “The Kissing Booth 3”. But apparently that’s already in post-production.
I can probably already write that review. It’ll start off with, “Did you know there was a “The Kissing Booth 2?”
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email [email protected] and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.