If you’re a Netflix subscriber, and you’ve spent any time browsing through their offerings recently, you have no doubt seen The Kissing Both appear up in both the “popular” and “trending” sections of the streaming service. It’s not only a hugely popular original movie for Netflix, it’s “one of the most-watched movies in the country, and maybe in the world,” according to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. While he would not offer specific numbers, he did cite IMDB, which — at the time — placed The Kissing Booth as the fourth most popular movie in the United States, behind only Deadpool 2, Avengers: Infinity War and Solo. Meanwhile, upon its release, the stars of the film, Jacob Elordi and Joey King, placed number one and number six respectively on IMDB’s Star-O-Meter, which reflects the most popular celebrities on IMDB at the time.
What might explain the movie’s insane popularity?
Before we answer that, let’s discuss The Kissing Booth itself. The Netflix film stars Joey King as a high school student who falls in love with her best friend’s brother, a relationship that is sealed in a kissing booth. The film — which has not been received well by film critics (it sits at 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) — is targeted primarily at teen audiences.
Having seen it, I can confirm that it’s not a good film. In fact, its themes are at times unsettling. Lee Flynn (Joel Courtney) spends the movie trying to emotionally manipulate Shelly (King) into not dating his older brother, while the older brother, Noah (Elordi), threatens to beat up anyone else who tries to date Shelly. It’s literally a movie about two men trying to control a woman. At one point, in fact, a classmate of Shelly’s sexually assaults her by grabbing her butt. Noah beats up the classmate, but then Shelly agrees to go on a date with the classmate anyway after he apologizes by wearing the same short skirt that Shelly was wearing when the classmate grabbed her behind.