Kissing Booth, The

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Not suitable under 16; parental guidance 16+ (mature themes, teen alcohol use and sexual activity, coarse language and violence, problematic relationship patterns)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Kissing Booth, The
  • a review of Kissing Booth, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 September 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 16 Not suitable for children under 16 due to mature themes, teen alcohol use and sexual activity, coarse language and violence, problematic relationship patterns, and particularly the way that some of these topics are portrayed and handled.
Children aged 16 and over Parents of children aged 16 and older may want to take this movie as an opportunity to discuss issues like problematic drinking, sexual relationships, and jealous, controlling, and violent behaviour.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Kissing Booth, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, coarse language, sexual references, violence
Length: 106 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Junior Year student, Elle (Joey King), has gotten herself into a tricky situation: from birth she has been best friends with Lee (Joel Courtney), but she has a crush on Lee’s older brother Noah (Jacob Elordi), who is extremely handsome, but also has anger issues and a reputation as a womaniser. And according to Elle’s and Lee’s friendship rules, siblings are off limits. After Elle and Noah share a kiss in a Kissing Booth at a school carnival, they confess their mutual feelings for each other and start a secret relationship. Elle has a lot to think about: Is bad-boy Noah being serious? And how is she supposed to tell Lee without ruining their friendship?

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Teenage romance; High school comedy; Rich kid lifestyle; L.A. lifestyle; Coming of age.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is a considerable amount of violence in this movie, including:

  • Noah is known for his short temper and violent outbursts, and it is implied that he often attempts to resolve conflict through intimidation and physical dominance and violence.
  • Noah punches another boy in the face with his fist, pushes him to the ground and keeps punching him in a mindless rage until someone pulls him away.
  • Noah violently slams another boy on the ground.
  • Noah threatens to use violence and has to be held back on other occasions.
  • Noah and Lee get into a physical fight, Lee hitting Noah in the face and them ending up wrestling on the ground.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Young children might become upset learning that Elle’s mother died of cancer.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned scenes and images may scare or disturb children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned scenes and images may scare or disturb children in this age group.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • While the themes and contents are not likely to disturb or scare children in this age group, the movie might send concerning messages, for example, in regard to drinking, sexuality, violence, conflict-solving, relationships etc.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are numerous sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Characters frequently discuss whether they have ‘made out’ or slept with people.
  • It is implied that Noah has frequent flings and sexual encounters with different girls.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Elle is seen in swimwear and also in her underwear (bra and slip) on several occasions.
  • When Elle gets drunk, she strips of to her underwear and wants to go ‘skinny dipping’ but is stopped.
  • On another occasion, Elle ends up in her bra in the male change room and struts around in a sexy/teasing manner.
  • Characters are seen kissing passionately.
  • It is implied that Elle and Noah have sex on their first proper date.
  • Elle and Noah are seen kissing passionately and what is implied to be foreplay in numerous scenes, including at school.
  • Lee hears Elle moaning while she is having sex with Noah. When confronted she claims that she was just watching porn, like it’s the most normal teenage pastime. Lee is intrigued and says he wants to join.
  • Elle buys condoms.

Use of substances

There is frequent use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Even though many characters would be under the legal drinking age, there is frequent and excessive use of alcohol on different occasions.
  • Elle is seen getting heavily drunk. She is seen out of control, intoxicated, dancing on a table, undressing herself, and planning to go skinny dipping in a pool.
  • Elle is seen hungover the next day.
  • Characters engage in drinking games and binge drinking.

Coarse language

There is frequent coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Dick
  • Dammit
  • Boobs
  • Butt
  • Bitch
  • Slut
  • Fucked up
  • Fucking (for having sex)
  • Shit
  • Bullshit.

In a nutshell

The Kissing Booth is a teenage romcom based on teen author Beth Reekle’s book of the same title, packed with rich Los Angeles white kid and high school stereotypes and slapstick humour. This movie is also a sheep in wolf’s clothing because it is marketed as a sweet and funny teenage romcom, but presents with several issues that raise serious concern. The movie downplays excessive alcohol consumption amongst teenagers as a normal, harmless, and even desirable activity, e.g. hosting massive parties at home while parents are away or at a beach with no adult supervision, with a hangover being the worst consequence. There are also some sexist elements, e.g. a boy smacking Elle on her bottom as a direct response to her wearing a short skirt, or numerous occasions when Noah demonstrates jealous and controlling behaviour, either behind her back by telling other boys to stay away from her unless they want to end up with a broken nose, or to her face, by telling her what she can or cannot do. The movie also normalises teenage sexual activity (including watching porn), and being sexually active in public places including at school. Noah’s character and his relationship with Elle raise flags in regard to his aggressive, controlling, and bullying behaviour, the implication that his good looks and “sexy smirk” allow him to get away with unacceptable behaviour, and her hope that he can change. Because of this, along with frequent coarse language, this movie is not suitable for children under 16, and parents may still wish to debrief with their older offspring.

The main messages from this movie are that, really, you should not sneak around behind people’s backs and not lie to your best friend, at least not for too long, but that ultimately you have to just do what’s most important to you.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include (with the movie mainly serving as a guide how NOT to do things):

  • Responsible behaviour
  • Respectful behaviour
  • Accountability
  • Honesty
  • Friendship
  • Solving conflicts with words, not fists.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Dangerous behaviour like drinking to excess which could lead to all sorts of problems, like unprotected sex, drowning accidents etc.
  • Violent behaviour as a default response to conflict: In the movie’s half-hearted attempt to address Noah’s problematic anger issues and lack of self-control, his explanation why he “gets into all those fights”, is “I guess it’s kind of just how I’m wired”, continuing that he was made to see counsellors for it, obviously with little success, and concluding that “we’re all fucked up one way or another, right?”. Elle suggests that maybe he could change? And that’s that dealt with. Surely, in real life, more serious conversations and consequences would have to follow.
  • Intimacy: Elle goes from “never kissed a guy” to “going all the way” within the matter of a few days. It can be argued that she has known Noah all her life, yet, in real life, parents may want to encourage their children to take their time, especially if they have doubts about the other person’s integrity, intentions, and readiness to commit.