Sexy beasts


As our world unravels hysterically around us, it is perhaps unsurprising that internet audiences have turned to seemingly lighter fare for succor. Netflix doesn’t release audience data—why would they? It’s so valuable! But their chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, told Vulture that their original teen romcom The Kissing Booth (released on May 11 2018) is “one of the most-watched movies in the country, and maybe in the world.”

As I watched this unicorn frappuccino of a film for the first time, I had a strange, sinking feeling that I was being punk’d. This suspicion came into its full efflorescence in the scenes that feature the typically talented Molly Ringwald. She plays the mom of the male love interest in a casting decision clearly meant as homage to the Hughes era of teen-driven dramedies, but why, I wondered, was she so terrible here? Perhaps her acting chops had dulled?

But then I realized that some of her lines would be nearly impossible to deliver well. In a pep talk she gives to the teen female lead, who’s on the outs with her best friend, she tells her, “Elle, I was friends with your mom for over 20 years. She was my best, best friend. But if you think that we didn’t fight sometimes, you got another thing coming.” You got another thing coming. What actual adult talks like this?

None is the correct answer here, which I arrived at by discovering that the film is based on a novel written by the fifteen-year-old Beth Reekles. Not only did the teenage Reekles compose the story, she did so serially on the social publishing platform Wattpad, taking reader suggestions as she went. She told Forbes magazine,”I think it helped that while I was posting, I tried to interact with readers as much as possible, through author notes at the start and end of each chapter as well as sending responses to some individual messages. I used Twitter and a Tumblr blog to promote the book and talk to readers, too.”

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