Blockers is a Comedy That Blocks any Laughs and Should be Blocked From Your List of Films to see.
DIRECTED BY KAY CANNON/2018
Teenager raunchy-comedy. This may be one of the most overused film genres around. Sometimes it lands well as with Superbad, and many times it does not (for examples try nearly the entire American Pie series and its spin-offs). This is one of those in the later categories, and at this point it feels as if Blockers is scraping the bottom of the barrel. If not for Leslie Mann and John Cena, this film may not have produced a single laugh. Fortunately, casting may end up elevating whatever chances this film has at box office success as it features a pretty lifeless script from writers Brian and Jim Kehoe.
First time director Kay Cannon is best known as a writer for the three Pitch Perfect films, as well as some television scripts. Her direction is competent, but I wonder if she might have been better served if she had written the script as well. Considering that Blockers tries to come off as a female empowerment film, it would have been better served if two men weren’t the ones writing about how three teenage girls plan to lose their virginity on prom night.
Julie (Kathryn Newton-Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan-Miracle Workers television series), and Sam (Gideon Aldon-American Crime television series) have been friends since kindergarten. As Julie’s mom Lisa (Leslie Mann-This is 40, The Other Woman, The Comedian) drops her off at Kindergarten, we see the video footage she is shooting of Julie, who is commenting about how scared she is to start school and how she has no friends. Immediately Kayla and Sam walk up and introduce themselves creating lifelong friendships.
Behind Lisa, as she shoots this footage, we see Kayla’s father Mitchell (John Cena-Trainwreck, Daddy’s Home), who is crying over this milestone moment, and Sam’s dad Hunter (Ike Barinholtz-Suicide Squad, Neighbors, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House). One of them remarks, “If our daughters are friends, that means that we are”. This is supposed to imply a camaraderie among Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter, but after the video montage of more milestone moments that catches us up on the girl’s lives until their senior year of high school, there is nothing to suggest that the parents shared the same bond as their kids.
Now that they are about to go to prom, the girls begin discussing their plans for their night, with Julie telling the others how she plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend Austin (Graham Phillips-Riverdale television series). Kayla jumps on board the idea and decides randomly to do the same with Connor (Miles Robbins-My Friend Dahmer), who is dubbed “the chef” for his ability to bake drugs into nearly any dish. Sam, says she may do the same with Chad (Jimmy Bellinger-The Middle television series), but is very unsure, as she is hiding the fact that she is really a lesbian and attracted to Angelica (Ramona Young-Santa Clara Diet).
When Julie leaves her laptop open allowing her mom to see the text messages between the girls describing their sex pact, Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter jump into action to be “Blockers” and keep their girls from losing their virginity….all except Hunter who just wants to save his girl from doing something she doesn’t want to do because he somehow feels that she is gay before she tells him, and more because he hasn’t really been in her life since his divorce.
The film will try to market itself as progressive, and empowering as the script does back-flips to check off all such boxes, while portraying the parents as hypocrites since they all did similar things on their prom night. But whatever progressive boxes it might hit, for those who need to keep track of such things, it falls short in the one category that matters: being funny. There are some moments, but as I stated earlier, these moments are carried completely by Cena and Mann.
Just as the script seems to be trying too hard to check off the proverbial progressive boxes, it also seems to do the same with its humor. Its like a mad lib where it follows the formula until it reaches a blank that says, “insert awkward sex situation”, and then does so, particularly as it involves Austin’s parents, played by Gary Cole (Office Space, Talladega Nights) and Gina Gershon (Showgirls) with lots of full frontal nudity of this couple. Parents are the typical idiots unless they learn to accept and promote their teens embracement of their sexuality through allowing them to practice it, without any regard to consequences. These are written to be two-dimensional characters through and through.
Blockers, as a title, is meant to invoke the general feeling teens may have towards their parents who seem to always be trying to block them from having a good time, or pursuing what they want to do. This has been a generalized feeling that all teens have felt at one time or another. Instead, it should be applied as a general rule of what one should do when trying to decide what to see this weekend….just block Blockers from your “must-see” list.