Two years ago I wrote my book vs. movie review for The Kissing Booth (check it out here), so I’m excited to be back again talking about the differences between the book and movie for the sequel, The Kissing Booth 2: Going the Distance.
Let’s start off with some background. Since The Kissing Booth was such a hit on Netflix, a second movie was ordered—and at the time a sequel did not exist for the book. That means both were written around the same time, so they both focus on a few major plot points but tackle them in somewhat different ways.
So let’s dive into these differences. First off, it’s Elle and Lee’s senior year of high school and Noah’s freshman year at Harvard, which is true for both the book and movie. Two new characters are introduced to the cast as potential alternative love interests for Elle and Noah—Levi/Marco and Amanda/Chloe. Both of these characters play the same function in both the book and the movie, but their personalities are different. And of course, their names are obviously different. The movie also used this as an opportunity to introduce some diversity to the cast, which is missing in the book.
Like in the first book, Elle and Lee have a larger friend group than they do in the movie and these characters are also present in the book’s sequel. Levi is added into this friend group, and Elle and him often hang out together while babysitting their younger siblings. Levi’s dad is also in remission from cancer, so the two of them grow close as Levi opens up and confides in Elle. In the movie, Marco is the new kid but not friends with Elle right away and they’re pretty competitive with each other at school. Lee ends up pushing them to partner up for a dance competition and they then become friends through all the time they spend together.
Noah has a hard time adjusting to college life and doesn’t tell Elle. In the book, it’s because he’s struggling with his classes and grades. His lab partner Amanda helps him and they become friends. In the movie, Noah’s lonely and becomes friends with Chloe who brings him out of his shell and introduces him to a group of friends. In both the book and the movie, Elle becomes jealous over this new girl. In the movie, Elle visits Boston for the weekend and while she’s there she find Chloe’s earring under Noah’s bed and fixates on this throughout the rest of the movie. In the book, it’s a photo on Facebook of Amanda kissing Noah’s cheek. Both of these cases lead to Elle believing Noah is cheating and to their breakup.
Another change is Elle and Lee’s friendship. In the book, Lee joins the football team and spends most of his time either with them or his girlfriend, Rachel. He’s the one who starts to look at attending other colleges besides Berkley (their dream school). Elle feels abandoned, which pushes her closer to Levi. In the movie, Lee hangs out with Elle too much still, which is hard on his relationship with Rachel. Rachel is upset and this causes a rift between her and Elle . . . as well as Levi’s friendship with Elle as he doesn’t handle it in the best way. It’s Elle who then starts looking at attending a different college, specifically in Boston to be close to Noah. There’s also a whole subplot about Elle writing her college essay, which is present in both the movie and book. Spoiler alert, in the movie Elle gets into both schools and the movie ends with her needing to make a choice at graduation. In the book, both she and Lee are accepted into only Berkeley.
Back to the Elle and Noah’s relationship. In the book, after they breakup, Noah comes home for Thanksgiving bringing Amanda with him since she’s British and had no where to go since doesn’t celebrate the holiday. In the movie, she’s still British, but he brings Chloe home instead because he wants her to become friends with Elle. Also, while Noah’s home, he finds Elle kissing Levi/Marco. In the book, it’s after Elle leaves the family dinner upset. In the movie, it’s before right before Thanksgiving during her and Marco’s dance competition. They eventually make up—with Elle and Noah dramatically running across the airport and school carnival in the movie. In the book, Amanda talks with Elle and convinces her to give Noah another chance. Elle’s already decided to go after Noah by the time she talks to Chloe in the movie. Levi and Elle stay friends in the book, but in the movie it’s clear that Marco still has feelings for Elle and their friendship ends. And lastly, the kissing booth of courese makes a reappearance—at the school carnival again in the movie and during the school dance in the book.
And that’s about it for the big differences! I found parts of the first book to be incredibly problematic, so I was happy that these parts were hardly present in the sequel. The movie was really fun and the dance competition added such a fun layer—and Marco was a star, Elle really should’ve chosen him. I definitely plan on watching the third and final movie next year! Will you be?