Blockers (2018)
Blockers (2018)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.

Release Date: April 6th, 2018 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Kay Cannon Actors: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon, Graham Phillips, Gary Cole, Gina Gershon

 


 

H

unter (Ike Barinholtz), the irresponsible, alcoholic dad; Lisa Decker (Leslie Mann), the hovering, sentimental mom; and Mitchell (John Cena), the emotionally fragile yet athletic, sports-referencing father, happen to meet one another while sending their three tiny daughters off to their first day at Forest Green Elementary School in Chicago. They don’t become instant friends, but when their children immediately begin talking to one another, the parents seem destined to remain close. A quick montage fast-forwards the kids into their teenage years, with prom night – a monumental rite of passage – looming, as if a final touchstone for young-adulthood.

Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) is the sporty one; Julie (Kathryn Newton) is the popular one, who serves as her single mother’s best friend; and Sam (Gideon Adlon) is the nerdy one. The three girls decide to form a pact to lose their virginities on prom night, even though Julie is the only one with a steady boyfriend. The other two pick, almost at random, sexual partners for the evening, since it will be so much more of a memorable event if they can each share stories the following morning. But when Julie’s laptop, which is synced to her phone, is accidentally left open, Lisa can’t help herself; after spying on her daughter to learn of the pact, she sets out to stop the girls from making huge mistakes.

Mitchell is also on board with the idea, but Hunter – despite being the most reckless of the trio of adults – has a curious maturity toward prom night. He may be obnoxious, but he supports the girls making decisions for themselves, maintaining their freedom to explore their sexualities, and empowering them with the notion that they can be safe and responsible even when it comes to adult decisions. “I’m not some pathetic damsel in distress!” cries Kayla. The film even addresses the double standard of the boys’ exploits, which are seen as macho encounters, versus the girls’ experiences, which make them victims of disinformation – and on track to destroying their lives. “Sex can be very confusing for young girls.”

While wholly unrealistic, the conversations between the adolescent teens are actually quite clever, demonstrating a comic – and hilariously frank – lack of clarity about intercourse. In reality, they’d probably be better versed than the average adult. But in the quasi-fantasy world of “Blockers,” serious consequences are always dismissed in favor of slapstick or gross-out gags. From deciphering suggestive emojis, to stumbling into sexual experimentation, to the parents turning every interaction into a cringingly awkward situation, the film keeps the laughs coming. There’s an odd innocence in both the youths’ group and the threesome of parents, but it works well for the sake of comedy. Repercussions are limited and routinely cut off by a joke or two; even when the main characters spill some weepy revelations about their failures and regrets, there’s always an abrupt transition back into the humorous mission of foiling their daughters’ goals.

“Blockers” shares its time between the kids’ perspectives and that of the adults, which tends to slow down the onslaught of raunchy scenarios. In the end, however, the film clearly belongs to the latter, who engage in outrageous acts of callowness. The most pervasive theme might be that parents are just as immature as their children. As the antics grow steadily more tasteless yet amusing (as if to outdo the iconic, ribald sequences in films like “Porky’s” or “American Pie”), it’s evident that good-intentioned mischief mixed with the contrasting harshness of graphic nudity and bodily fluids comedically enhances even those ideas that aren’t inherently uncomfortable. There’s no sensible way to handle the inevitable final confrontations (and the heart-to-heart conversations that resolve the overprotective parents’ concerns), but “Blockers” knows not to resort to anything too serious. It’s a raunchy comedy; audiences are likely to ignore the many deviations from reality to focus on the riotous ways in which these overbearing parents infiltrate and interfere in juvenile trials and traditions.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10