SHOULD I SEE IT?
This comedy has lots of material teenagers, young adults, and adults will like in equal measure.
Fans of Judd Apatow-style comedies, though this is not an Apatow-connected film, will find many of the same gags, jokes, and R-rated comedy and thoughtful real-world elements woven into the film.
While it takes a while to get there, Blockers delivers a film with a lot of heart and some great messaging about growing up, letting go, and the messiness of realizing who you are.
Those who are not fans of R-rated comedies should probably stay away from this one.
The daughters' wanton desire to party, have sex, and rebel against their parents may not sit well with some audiences. Granted: we have seen boys behave this way in countless movies for decades, but nevertheless, here we are.
With some of the jokes not always landing and the movie burning a lot of energy to try and have its humor succeed, Blockers may come across as being not as funny as it thinks it is and the messages embedded with the film, lost as a result.
Though it takes a good, long while to get to a message that can resonate with parents and their adult (or near-adult) aged children, the directorial debut from Pitch Perfect creator Kay Cannon, Blockers, shows us how difficult it can be for grown-up’s to let their kids grow up on their own.
Churning through a fantastical, R-rated premise, we eventually meander into a story about acceptance, love, and empathy. And you may never actually believe you'll get there when WWE superstar and movie-star-on-the-rise, John Cena, accepts a challenge to chug a beer from his holiest of holies with a high school kid.
Hijinks like that, and more vulgar-oriented types of gags and one-liners almost overwhelm Blockers, in a film often more amusing than straight-up hilarious. There is comedic energy burning in every frame as Cena joins Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz as three parents who realize that on their high school daughters’ senior prom night, each have entered into something called #SexPact2018.
In short, each daughter has vowed to lose their virginity with their prom dates. Mann, as Lisa, has been raising Julie (Kathryn Newton) in a “best friends” type of relationship. Cena plays the overbearing Mitchell, father of Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), adjusting to having both a senior and a newborn baby with wife Marcie (Sarayu Blue). Barinholtz's Hunter is divorced, largely absent from the life of Sam (Gideon Adlon), struggling to repair a fractured relationship with her, even after he springs for a limousine for the girls to have the night of their lives.
The screenplay by Brian and Jim Kehoe lives in the world of R-rated, ribald comedies of recent years and the girls talk carefree and explicitly, commonplace with boys in dozens and dozens of these kinds of movies. The aesthetic is not new per se, but Blockers feels more self-aware, humble, and even unique in some ways, as it meanders through, quite frankly, a rather silly story of the three parents banding together to shut down the proverbial sex pact.
Together, Cena, Mann, and Barinholtz have great chemistry and Cena is fearless here. Unafraid to look like a buffoon, a big lug, or a sensitive, emotional father grappling with his daughter’s emerging independence, he is the movie’s ace in the hole on the adult side.
Leslie Mann, great as always, cruises through the movie with a veteran’s flair, while Barinholtz takes a little while to meld in with the group. Eventually, the trio provide great parallel companions to Newton, Viswanathan, and Adlon, the terrific young actors who carry the film’s main plot points of struggling with conformity, expectations, and a sense of understanding who you are, who you want to be, and how you can become comfortable in your own skin.
As Blockers eventually gets to the prom night festivities, lots of underage drinking and partying has occurred, some of the jokes have flat-lined, and the parents, predictably, have stumbled and bumbled around, embarrassing themselves and others with their own ridiculous misadventures.
Eventually the movie shifts and we see moments of reflection between parent and daughter, and for anyone faced with the realities of a child stepping out into the “real world” or beginning that journey for themselves, the movie hits some emotional depth you may not see coming.
Few films present all of this carousing, rebelliousness, and coming-of-age from a female perspective. When Newton, Viswanathan, and Adlon are either all together, or paired off, the movie feels and even looks a bit different. And this is a good thing, even if no one addresses the fact that these girls know a lot of things, making one have to wonder if the parenting they have received has really been all that good.
But I digress.
Upon reflection, Blockers is a better movie than it appears on the surface. And sure, some of the gags may not work, especially in repeated viewings, but this movie has a messy, emotional heart on its sleeve. Like the girls at the heart of the movie, this is all a bunch of awkward, silly, and occasionally irresponsible moments, contained within a story you should not just disregard because it "works blue."
Truth be told, unless you just don't like this brand of humor, there really isn't much of anything that can "block" the charm of Blockers and its clever ability to eventually win you over.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon, June Diane Raphael, Hannibal Buress, Sarayu Blue, Gary Cole, Gina Gershon, Miles Robbins, Graham Phillips, Jimmy Bellinger, Ramona Young, Colton Dunn.
Director: Kay Cannon
Written by: Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe
Release Date: April 6, 2018