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The Kissing Booth 3 Review | Mawkish and Horribly Manipulative

A disaster from all parties involved.

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“Oh, thank Christ it’s over,” said yours truly as the blooper reel came to an end in Vince Marcello’s The Kissing Booth 3, based on Beth Reekles’ Wattpad series of the same name. Unfortunately, Wattpad doesn’t equal literature, but Netflix, a studio desperate for content, decided to bring it to the mainstream by adapting Reekles’ series into a trilogy of films. The result proved highly satisfactory for the streamer: it’s their most successful franchise yet, pandering to teenage girls who look for wish-fulfilling entertainment with good-looking stars and a series of faux-problems that can be resolved through one apology sequence. The Kissing Booth 2, which had a 132-minute runtime (longer than Citizen Kane, heh) attached to it, was chock-full of faux-problems and egotism, in which every character desperately craved for attention and made others feel bad about their own existence if they didn’t spend enough time with them.

At least the previous two films had a story behind these faux problems. The first film was the blossoming of Elle (Joey King), and Noah (Jacob Elordi)’s relationship through a Kissing Booth. In contrast, the second film showed their relationship fizzle with the arrival of Chloe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) in Noah’s life and Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez) in Elle’s life. In The Kissing Booth 3, there is no story. Instead, Elle, Noah, Lee (Joel Courtney), and Rachel (Meganne Young) volunteer to take care of Mrs. Flynn (Molly Ringwald)’s beach house, as it’s going to get demolished by the end of summer. Elle and Lee decide to make their summer bucket list before she moves to Harvard, but Marco stumbles upon Elle’s life again, desperate to regain her love, while Noah wants to control her feelings towards him. It’s a baffling film to watch, but then you remember that it’s all based on a Wattpad series, which is exactly why this trilogy was never going to be good in the first place.

The basis of The Kissing Booth franchise are characters that don’t know better than thinking of themselves the entire time. When they think they’re doing it for others, they keep complaining about it until the “other” in question feels bad about existing. In this film, everyone is going after themselves in ways I never expected. Everyone creates drama for absolutely nothing, going so far as to purposefully hurt the “other” so that said person can appear as abusive. Noah Flynn, in particular, is the most controlling character of the entire franchise. In the second film, as Elle needs space, he pretends to be his father (Brad Jennings) on the phone to talk to her. In number 3, he’s so jealous of Marco’s super masculine qualities that he’ll try to literally kill him in a Go-Kart race. When he is left unharmed (and even wins the race, mind you), Noah’s only goal will now be to provoke Marco so he can appear controlling towards others.

I’ve never seen a character who desperately wants to control the lives of everyone around him because he feels so insecure about himself. And here’s the thing: Jordan Elordi has no charismatic qualities whatsoever as Noah. He’s shirtless all the time and for absolutely no reason too, but he has quite literally nothing to offer to Elle. Heck, I have no idea why they fell in love in the first place: he’s erratic, frequently gets into outbursts of violence, and always makes Elle feel bad about her life choices. That’s right, how dare does she spend time with her best friend before they live their own life for the first time since they’re born? She should only spend time with me! And as more new people get into Elle’s life, she doesn’t want to accept that her friend is moving on from her since it’s supposed to be all about ME! Notice how many characters say “I” or “my” in the film; it will astound you just how poorly conceived everyone is and how horribly manipulative Marcello and Jay Arnold’s script truly is.

There isn’t a point to any of the sequences presented in The Kissing Booth 3. Many of them will make you go crazy, particularly one involving recreation of Mario Kart through Comic-Con level-cosplays, fake bob-ombs, and bananas to attack its opponents (you may think I’m kidding, but you wait until you witness it. For reference, this is the scene where Noah wants to kill Marco over his feelings towards Elle, even though those said feelings are friendly, and nothing else), or a Volleyball competition between Marco and Noah that ends in a Hallmark-lite fistfight. All of these sequences are here to create fake tension and drama, for them to be easily resolved in half-baked apology sequences or scenes where the characters realize that, in conclusion:

“It’s not about me. It’s about WE.”– Anthony Robbins

Some realization. And it takes innumerable tedious sequences for the characters to get to that point because they’re so wrapped up in their own self-interests that they can’t realize the harm they’re doing to others. None of the acting is particularly memorable; even Joey King & Joel Courtney, who usually had enticing chemistry together in the previous two films, don’t hold their own here since they’re continuously fighting over what they think is right for themselves. When Elle isn’t going to Berkeley anymore, Lee decides to befriend someone else (who will go to Berkeley) and ditch Elle for his own self-interest since she hasn’t respected the fake rules they made up as a child. Yeah, the rules are another way to make Lee and Elle feel bad about their own existence when both characters need space: “What about Rule #? Or Rule #?” It’s particularly annoying when you realize that these rules were conceived when they were kids, and their refusal to grow up has made them the most selfish characters in any teen film I’ve seen in recent memory.

If you’re a teenager aching for wish-fulfilling fantasies on teenhood and high school, maybe you’ll adore The Kissing Booth 3’s presentation on the drama that arises when the main characters are asked to move on from teenhood to adulthood. But the film is horribly manipulative as it continuously makes the protagonists (and the audience) feel bad about their own existence to spend more time with one self-centered protagonist after another. The only character that awakens from their egotist self is Molly Ringwald’s Mrs. Flynn, whom, in a burst of rationality, realizes that maybe the beach house isn’t worth selling after all (of course, as soon as she says she’s selling it, you don’t believe she’ll go through with it). Well, good for you, but maybe this franchise wasn’t worth adapting to film after all. Oh wait, anything related to fanfictions and Wattpad shouldn’t even be transposed to another mode of entertainment. Now that would be something.

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Adventure

Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece

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Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.

Plot

Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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Entertainment

A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil

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Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

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Reviews

‘I Love You, Guys’ Review | A Poignant Exploration of Celebrity Vulnerability and Human Resilience

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We are living in an era where celebrities are worshipped like deities and sometimes, people forget that he or she is also a normal human being. If we feel happy or sad at certain moments, they do as well and even though a lot of people always surround them, they get vulnerable too. Although a lot of filmmakers forget to show that aspect of their lives, Billie Melissa Rogan takes the bold approach of showing the truth. Her directorial debut, ‘I Love You, Guys,’ is a poignant story about a celebrity fighting her inner self to maintain her celebrity image. The result is a stunning piece of art that resonates long after the end credits roll in.

The short film opens with a profound close-up of the young singing sensation named Sky (Becky Bush). She has made a name for herself by making and singing really exceptional songs. As a result, she is adored by her fans. Even though it feels like Sky has everything she wants, viewers see her submerged in a bathtub as she tries to battle her anxiety. Just then, Sky gets a phone that she’d be performing state-side. Now, that’s where we get to know about her vulnerable state for the first time. Although she says that she is really happy with the above-mentioned news, her face tells a different story. Despite her impending stardom, Sky has not started to feel the massive weight of mounting pressure, a sentiment audiences get to see in her conversations with bandmate Ryan (Pedro Leandro) and girlfriend Taylor (Celi Crossland).

Becky Bush in a still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

As the story moves forward, we get to know that ‘I Love You, Guys’ is about the fragile nature of the human spirit as much as it is about celebrity culture. It not only navigates themes of depression, it also highlights the turbulent emotional journey of Sky. One of the best aspects of the film is how Rogan masterfully brings Cory Varney’s screenplay to life. She managed to capture every minor detail of Sky’s emotions with utmost precision. Despite the fact that it is her first-ever film as a director, we get a sense that we are watching a flick helmed by a seasoned filmmaker.

Another aspect that makes this film such a compelling watch is its cinematography. Jenni Suitiala has done a phenomenal in showing expressions through vibrant colors and Rogan has made full use of the settings to give viewers a visually striking film. Whether it is heated arguments or silent moments of despair, each frame feels authentic and draws audiences into Sky’s personal life.

Apart from Rogan’s direction, Varney’s script is this film’s biggest strength. The writer has undoubtedly done a stunning job of showing the humanity of these characters. There’s a reason why Sky’s struggles feel very personal and it is because we have endured such moments in life. Moments where we doubt ourselves even when we know we are more than capable of doing a particular thing. Not every smiling person is happy. Sometimes he or she is smiling just so that no one finds out about the tough times they are going through.

A still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

Acting-wise, Becky Bush has given a performance that is surely going to open several doors for her. She delivers a magnificent performance by infusing Sky with a beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength. The way she manages to convey an innumerable amount of emotions is spectacular. I believe this is one of the most apt depictions of mental turmoil. Meanwhile, Pedro Leandro and Celi Crossland are just as spectacular. Every interaction between the characters feels genuine and nuanced.

All in all, ‘I Love You, Guys’ is a testament to how resilient a human spirit can be. In just 15 minutes, Rogan, Varney, and Bush take viewers on a journey that’s thought-provoking and talks about a subject that no one talks about. The writing, direction, and performances achieve a lot more than just viewers’ attention. The film offers a compelling examination of the human cost of pursuing fame and success. A poignant story that touches on themes of ambition, relationships, and self-discovery.

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