Mark Reviews Movies

Blockers

BLOCKERS

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Kay Cannon

Cast: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Ramona Young, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon, Graham Phillips, Miles Robbins, Jimmy Bellinger, Sarayu Blue, June Diane Raphael, Hannibal Buress, Gary Cole, Gina Gershon

MPAA Rating: R (for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying, and some graphic nudity)

Running Time: 1:42

Release Date: 4/6/18


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Review by Mark Dujsik | April 5, 2018

The comedy of Blockers is based on two truths: More than anything, parents want to protect their kids, and there's a societal double standard when it comes to teenagers losing their virginity, depending on whether the teen is a boy or a girl. There have been plenty of mainstream comedies about teenage boys doing all sorts of wild and crazy things to have sex for the first time, and the girls in those movies typically don't have much of a say in the matter. After all, the only thing the boys—and, hence, the movies—really care about is whether or not they'll say yes.

Here, we get a mainstream comedy featuring a trio of teenage girls who speak frankly and, often, raunchily about sex. On their own, the three girls are enough to carry a movie, especially a sex comedy that turns the tables on the usual, male-oriented perspective of such fare. Instead, the screenplay by brothers Brian and Jim Kehoe also gives us another trio—three of the girls' over-attentive parents, who are convinced that their daughters are wrong for wanting to have sex on prom night. They're the ones who go to wild and crazy lengths in order to stop the girls from losing their virginity.

On a certain level, one can see what the Kehoes are doing here: They're turning the parents into fools. Considering how the night ultimately plays out for the girls, it's the right decision, because the teens are more than capable of determining whether or not it's the right time for them to have sex. It's kind of a shame that the movie doesn't think quite as highly of them. It certainly doesn't believe that their stories are enough to carry this movie.

In a way, this is fine, since the Kehoes and director Kay Cannon are primarily out to provide a series of gags. We need some fools for that, but again, it's just a shame that the filmmakers don't believe the girls can or should be allowed to be foolish in their own quest for sexual discovery. The shift in perspective and the ultimate message of the movie are two steps forward. The inclusion of the parents, though, feels like one, big step backwards.

The girls are Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon). They've been best friends since elementary school, and now they're seniors in high school. Julie has been dating Austin (Graham Phillips). They're young and in love, and Julie is determined to make prom night the occasion that she loses her virginity with him. Kayla decides that she'll have sex for the first time on prom night, too. Sam is hesitant, since she has started to realize that she isn't attracted to boys, but agrees, since she also worries that she might lose her best friends if they learn that she's a lesbian.

The real focus of the movie, though, isn't this story. It's the girls' parents' discovery of this sex pact, which sends them running around town on prom night, trying to track down their daughters and to convince them not to have sex.

Lisa (Leslie Mann) is Julie's divorced mom, raising her daughter on her own and terrified at the prospect of Julie leaving for college. Mitchell (John Cena) is Kayla's father, and he's horrified about the idea of his daughter having sex. His wife Marcie (Sarayu Blue) provides one voice of reason, scolding her husband and his co-conspirators for the inherent sexism of the plan. Sam's father Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), who has been mostly absent from his daughter's life after divorcing her mother, is another reasonable voice. That mostly comes from his belief that he doesn't have to worry about his own daughter having sex with a guy. Even so, he still wants to stop her from making that "mistake."

The good news is that some of the parents' misadventures are quite funny. There's a bit involving a house party, in which Mitchell is coerced to chug some beer in order to gain entry. The chugging, though, involves a funnel, a tube, and the necessity of dropping one's pants in order to get the tube in the correct orifice. There's a nighttime car chase down a wooded highway that's ended by projectile vomit. At one point, Mitchell, who seems to draw the short straw in most of the situations, ends up in a house where a naked couple is playing a game of blindfolded hide-and-seek.

Yes, most of the gags are gross, founded on bodily functions or, in the case of the blindfold game, just bodies, but there's a distinct escalation to them. It helps that Mann, Cena, and Barinholtz understand that each sequence requires them to match the increasing franticness of the situation. On their own, Mann provides a heartbroken core to Lisa, Cena plays just the right level of charming dopiness, and Barinholtz gives the loser deadbeat dad some sad, unexpected neediness.

One can't help but feel that we should be talking about the girls in this situation instead, but their characters and their dilemmas are played primarily as the impetus for the parents' adventures and growth. The parents of Blockers are the foolish heroes in a story that might have been better served if the girls were the heroes, capable of being foolish on their own.

Copyright © 2018 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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