In the past year, Netflix came out with two iconic teen romantic comedies, The Kissing Booth and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Both based on books, the two movies brought the authors justice as their characters were successfully transfered from their imagination to TV screens for a worldwide audience. As a fifteen year old girl, I think I have some valid opinions about their relative merits. Speaking from the targeted demographic, I think it’s safe to say that To all The Boys I’ve Loved Before is, in every way, far superior to The Kissing Booth. So let’s just dive right in.
Let’s start out with some simple investigation and look at the two movies’ IMDb and Rotten Tomato scores. When searching The Kissing Booth, I am not very impressed with these two scores. IMDb gave it a respectable score of 6.3/10 which I think is pretty good considering this is a teen Netflix movie. However, things go downhill when looking at the Rotten Tomatoes score of 13%, which is definitely not spectacular. Many critics compare the film to iconic John Hughes movies with its suggestive soundtrack and the casting of Molly Ringwald. These critics believe that The Kissing Booth is grossly lacking in acting and in storyline compared to such iconic films.
On the other hand, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before blows The Kissing Booth out of the water with its IMDb score of 7.5/10 and 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. We are talking certified fresh. Many top critics adore the movie and its characters, saying that the actors did an amazing job. The movie also made critics feel happy and giddy, like any good rom-com should.
One big difference between the two movies is the amount of diversity between characters and extras. The Kissing Booth has predominantly white characters except for one girl of color who is African American and has very minimal screen time. When rewatching the movie, I even failed to spot many extras of color, let alone anyone one with lines. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before contrarily has a variety of diverse characters. Although this movie still has a total of five white characters, it does a much better job at balancing representation.
The two movies also have different approaches to slut shaming. Elle Evans, the main character in The Kissing Booth, gets inappropriately touched by another student. After this, she goes on a date with the same guy who proceeds to tell her that, “Your boobs aren’t worth that much.” Lara Jean Covey, the protagonist in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, deals with a similar problem when a video of her kissing her boyfriend is sent all over her school. Contrasting with Elle, she handles the situation maturely and confronts the person she believes to be behind the recording.
In my personal opinion, I found that the Kissing Booth had much more of a cheesy and redundant storyline than To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. The Kissing Booth felt like a rushed story with bad acting and a poorly developed plot; after watching it a few times, I still couldn’t find the purpose or the overall lesson I was supposed to learn after an hour and fifty minutes. The film didn’t introduce anything new or innovative to the table that made it stand out compared to the hundreds of rom-coms on the Netflix platform.
On the other hand, I thought that To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was very refreshing and opened the doors for high quality Netflix movies. It also presents itself as a stunning movie that really captures the essence of high school and first love. Perhaps Netflix can top this hit of a film with its new movie, Sierra Burgess is a Loser that just recently came out on September 7.
(Sources: Netflix, IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes)