Even while being a tad predictable, Blockers manages to subvert many of the tropes of the teen sex comedy genre and provide some refreshing social commentary on the sexual politics of 2018.
Parents played by Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz stumble upon their daughters’ group text messages promising to lose their virginity on prom night and decide they have to put a stop to it. And wackiness ensues. Sounds pretty basic, right? Except director Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect, 30 Rock) brings a sardonic social commentary that sets it apart from its peers.
By focusing on characters and motivations, the film transcends its otherwise formulaic plot and gags. Both Mann and Cena have to confront their own internalized patriarchy, gender roles and sex-negative attitudes, but they’re both coming at this from very different places. Even better, both show depth as actors, not just comedic performers, and provide good ways “in” for the audience.
Mann’s overactive busybody mom is a great feminist — except when it comes to letting her own daughter make her own decisions. So, in reality, she’s a bad feminist.
Cena’s sensitive, supporting dad is a textbook example of alternative, non-toxic masculinity — until he isn’t, and wants to throw his daughter’s prom date through a wall.
In one of the best scenes of the film, Cena’s wife, played by Sarayu Blue, calls them both out for their ridiculous behavior and hypocrisy. They don’t get it, but hopefully we do.
In a surprising turn, Barinholtz provides the most interesting character arc, as his motivations for stopping his daughter are due to (spoiler alert? not exactly) the fact that he knows she is gay, even if she doesn’t yet. As the screw-up in the troika of main adult characters, it’s surprising that he is the one with the clearest and most defensible motivation.
The actual standout performance of the film, however, comes from Geraldine Viswanathan, who plays Kayla, one of the three girls. She is a star in the making, and it’s unfortunate Marvel can’t snatch her up and speed a Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel film into production.
It would also be remiss to not mention amazing appearances by Gary Cole and Gina Gershon. Spoiler alert: nudity. Lots and lots of nude Gary Cole. Good for you, Gary!
While this film has a lot of laughs, it’s also a bit longer than it needs to be. And despite its social message, it really is just a teen sex comedy. But if you’re looking for some cringeworthy laughs and lots and lots of mens’ butts, you might enjoy Blockers.
3 out of 5 stars