Warning: Minor spoilers ahead

Throughout the entirety of The Kissing Booth series, there's been a lot of focus on one particular question: Which guy will Elle choose?

Will she stay loyal to her BFF or continue to date his brother? Will she pursue a new romance with the gorgeous new exchange student or try to work things out with her boyfriend? And what about college? Will Elle (Joey King) go to Berkeley to be with Lee (Joel Courtney) or attend Harvard to be closer to Noah (Jacob Elordi)?

That last question is finally answered in Netflix's highly-anticipated Kissing Booth 3, where Elle has to decide which boy's heart she's going to break over the summer. I won't ruin the big surprise, but I will say that the drama has practically multiplied tenfold. And there are quite a few fun and silly moments in this iteration that Kissing Booth fans will appreciate. But how does it hold up compared to the first two films? And is it worth the watch?

For the record, I should note that I was a bit disappointed by the first two films. I didn't like that Elle's entire existence revolved around the boys in her life, and I was especially peeved at how these movies tried to glamorize relationships that were clearly toxic (don't even get me started on Elle and Lee's strict friendship rules). Still, as turned off as I was by this series, a part of me hoped that these issues would be addressed/fixed in The Kissing Booth 3.

For those who are unfamiliar with the plot, Elle spends the summer trying to put off selecting the college that she'll attend. Instead, she focuses on making the most of her final summer at home, where she teams up with her BFF to complete a long "Beach Bucket List" of fun activities.

Since I watched the film with slightly higher expectations, I started off feeling a bit annoyed. Unfortunately, Elle begins by repeating a lot of the same mistakes. Noah is still super jealous and possessive. Lee still feels entitled to Elle's time and complete loyalty, and the list goes on. But thankfully, things take a turn when Lee's mom helps Elle realize that picking between different guys was never the real problem. After struggling to balance a summer job with catering to the needs of her best friend and boyfriend, she finally learns that her selflessness and people-pleasing habits are only holding her back.

the kissing booth 3 cast
Marcos Cruz/Netflix

Meanwhile, both Marco and Chloe are still in the picture, so there's plenty of extra tension and awkwardness to boot. As Marco continues to pursue Elle, Chloe develops an even closer bond with Noah and, not surprisingly, this threatens Elle and Noah's relationship. Plus, Elle has a bone to pick with her dad's new love interest, who appears to be trying to replace her mom.

Simply put, there's a lot that goes on in this film. But even with all the added drama, it maintains a feel-good vibe. There's no shortage of cheesy romantic scenes and wild partying, but none of these things really drew me in. Rather, I was taken by Elle's maturity when she opens up to Lee about focusing on what she wants for once. I was more interested in watching Lee finally come to terms with the fact that he can't have everything his way. And I was especially impressed with Noah, who makes a surprising, selfless decision for Elle.

These small signs of growth definitely make The Kissing Booth 3 better than the first two movies, which centered only on Elle feeling torn between different guys, but I wouldn't necessarily call this movie a must-watch. There are quite a few things that don't make sense (like how Lee's parents can afford their luxurious beach house) and it has its fair share of overused tropes. Still, I get the feeling that loyal fans of the franchise will enjoy this one.

PureWow Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The Kissing Booth 3 is a bit melodramatic and predictable, but it does a good job of tying up loose ends and showing character growth.

For a full breakdown of PureWow's entertainment rating system, click here.

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