TL;DR – Despite the fact that none of this should work, it is surprisingly touching and quite funny
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a Mid-Credit scene
This is a film that shouldn’t really work at all. It is smashing storylines of what feels like two completely different films from different genres together and it should be an unmitigated mess, yet somehow it all kind of works. So today we will take a look at what makes Blockers work when it really shouldn’t.
So to set the scene, parents Lisa (Leslie Mann), Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), and Mitchell (John Cena) have all been friends, or at least acquaintances for most of their lives as their daughters all started school at the same time and soon became fast friends. Now many years later Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon) are now about to graduate from high school and prom is soon approaching. As they plan their night Julie reveals that she has planned to lose her virginity to her boyfriend Austin (Graham Phillips) and the other girls decide that they’d join in too. Well, all is fine and dandy until the night of the prom when we find out a lot has changed in the preceding years as the parents have grown more distant from each other, and Hunter is out of the picture after a nasty divorce. All of the politeness falls apart with a surprise Hunter reveal with a limo for the girls to use, which of course annoys his ex-wife Brenda (June Diane Raphael) and her new husband Frank (Hannibal Buress). Well after the girls left Lisa finds out that Julie has accepted a college across the country, and also that Julie has left her laptop open. So, she stumbles on the girls talking about the pact in their group chat. Lisa, freaks out because she does not want Julie to make the same mistakes as her, Mitchell is freaking out because he kind of thinks that is what he is supposed to do, and Hunter thinks this is a bad idea that will ruin the girls night but also he is concerned that Sam might be being pressured into doing something she does not want to do. Well, then the trio set out to ‘block’ their daughters so no one loses their virginity.
See from that description alone this sounds like a film that could only be a mess and it is as crass as any R-rated comedy can be, indeed the tagline for the film is literally “parents can be such ‘cock’ blockers” only the cock is added with an outline of a roster. But somehow they make it work, and the first place they do that is with the story. Overall it is like they smashed together the teen coming of age film, with a parent freak out film. Like I literally mean it feels like these were two separate films at one point in the production process and someone said to make one film out of the parts. This should be a disaster, but whoever put the final screenplay together cut all the fat from the film leaving only the things that forward the story or those that were in some way humorous. Trust me, whether you plan it or not, you will be laughing at some of the things that happen here. It also works because while the parent might not see it, all the girls have agency over their actions and no one is forcing them to do anything. Also, each of the parents has a major flaw, but each of those flaws comes from what feels like a real place, so it never feels forced.
Now, none of this would have worked if the casting was not amazing, but each of the actors was a fantastic fit for their characters. Leslie Mann works really well as the mum who is super close to her daughter, yet can’t help but realise that getting pregnant so young kind of messed up her life. Ike Barinholtz walks that line from being a complete douche but also being really venerable, and that is a balancing act that is hard to pull off convincingly. Now, of course, there is John Cena, and oh boy did he commit to this role. It is almost like with Dwayne Johnson in Jumanji (see review) or Dave Bautista in Guardians (see review), when you had no idea that someone was perfect for a role and now you can’t think of anyone else who could have played it. While the parents are where the marketable star power is, I think it is safe to say the heart of the film is the daughters and how they interact with each other and the world around them. It is so rare to see in films like this to have women that have clear agency over their actions, and also that everyone else (well, not the parents but the assorted boyfriends) be totally okay with it. This friendship is core to the film and Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and Gideon Adlon always made it feel genuine.
While there are a lot of things Blockers gets right, there are also quite a lot of things where it clearly drops the ball, and not just of the clearly computer generated tears and smoke. While there are some jokes that are literally laugh out loud, there are also a lot, and I mean a lot, that just fall flat, and some that are just weird. Like, are we at that point where we can just joke about the Patriot Act like it’s no big thing, even though it is still a big thing. As well as this, there is a subplot where one of the boyfriends Connor (Miles Robbins) is a drug dealer, and not like just pot, and there are kind of zero consequences to this even though there would be consequences from this. There are some scenes that go on far too long than they needed to be and showed a lot more than they needed to. Also the ending kind of tied up just a bit too neatly to be even in the same ballpark as real life.
In the end, do we recommend Blockers? Well look this is an American R-rated comedy and just from that you probably know if this is a film that you are going to enjoy or not. As far as American R-rated comedies go, I think this is one of the better ones I have seen in a while, but I’m not sure if that means I can recommend it or not. This is one of those films where it is really going to be quite personal as to if it is to your tastes or not.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Blockers
Directed by – Kay Cannon
Screenplay by – Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg & Eben Russell
Music by – Tracy Bonham
Cinematography by – Russ T. Alsobrook
Edited by – Stacey Schroeder
Starring – Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Graham Phillips, Miles Robbins, Jimmy Bellinger, Ramona Young, June Diane Raphael, Jake Picking, Hannibal Buress, Sarayu Blue, Gary Cole, Gina Gershon & Colton Dunn
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: 12; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R