Movie review: ‘Blockers’ teaches responsibility, puts girls in charge
In the name of the almighty “Porky’s,” “American Pie,” “Risky Business” and “Superbad,” teenage lust as the focus of a sex-comedy is far from virgin territory. Yet, “Blockers,” the directing debut of “Pitch Perfect” scribe Kay Cannon, flips the script by changing the perspective from the guys to the gals. The result is so freshly funny it almost feels like the first time.
It features a trio of overprotective parents bent on coitus interruptus after discovering their daughters’ pact to lose their virginity on prom night. The sanitized title takes its name from the slang (starts with “C” and rhymes with rock) “****blockers.” But don’t let the lewd content and R-rating fool you; “Blockers” has more substance and emotion than most movies of its ilk. It sneaks in a lesson that sex is not all fun and games, it requires responsibility and love. Parents might prefer those points be presented with less raunch, but then who would pay attention? “Blockers” speaks the language of teens — emojis and all — showing an accurate portrait of just how confusing and funny sex can be.
John Cena (“Trainwreck”), Leslie Mann (“This Is 40”) and Ike Barinholtz (“The Mindy Project”) play the titular parents, a group forced together on the first day of kindergarten when their daughters became BFFs, skipping away in pigtails. Twelve years later, the girls are determined to make prom “a night to remember,” especially with college separation looming. Julie (Kathryn Newton) has been dating her boyfriend, Austin (Graham Phillips), for six months, so it’s time to do the deed. Jock Kayla (Geraldine Viswanthan) agrees to the pact so they’ll all share a “first-time anniversary.” Sam (Gideon Adlon) reluctantly agrees, even though she’s too scared to admit she’s more into girls.
And then there are the parents, who’ll stop at nothing, including butt-chugging beer, to preserve their girls’ chastity. Cena, in dad-approved cargo-shorts and a plaid button-up, flexes his comedic chops as a weepy, over-the-top vigilante dad to Kayla. Mann sinks her considerable physical comedy skills into her meatiest role in years as co-dependent single mom to Julie. Barinholtz, Sam’s loser-ish, somewhat estranged divorced dad, picks prom night to insert himself back in the mix.
The action takes place over the course of a night with the girls staying just a step ahead of the parents. There’s plenty of slapstick, pratfalls, projectile vomiting, and edible drugs, mixed in with some dramatic moments. Cannon directs from a script by Brian and Jim Kehoe — with Seth Rogen producing — adept at balancing heart and humor. She’s aided by a game-for-anything ensemble that also includes Gary Cole and Gina Gershon as Austin’s over-sexed parents. And in case you missed that the movie is an assault on the sexual double-standard of it being OK for boys — not girls — then pay attention to Sarayu Blue’s character. As Kayla’s mother, she makes it clear early on, saying “How to you expect society to treat women as equals if their own parents don’t?” Yup, this fits snuggly in the #MeToo, #TimesUp wheelhouse, putting the girls in charge. And that’s a very good thing.
— Dana Barbuto may be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.
Cast: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon, Geraldine Viswanathan.
(R for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying, and some graphic nudity.)