Blockers (2018) Movie Review By John Walsh

Blockers

Director: Kay Cannon
Writers: Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe
Stars: Kathryn Newton, John Cena, Leslie Mann

Kay Cannon has taken the well trodden teenage sexuality comedy film and given it a good shake. I thought that I was done with these type of films after watching umpteen iterations of American Pie and the likes of Superbad. The latter was genuinely funny, with likeable characters and a simplistic plot. Blockers has similar plus points but also a split perspective plot that was surprisingly enjoyable. 

The premise is incredibly simple, focusing on three teenage girls and life long friends, who make a secret sex pact on the eve of their high school prom night. There’s Julie Deckard (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon). It’s established very early that there’s a fundamental disconnect between the girls and their parents. The girls embrace their sexuality, independence and view the idea of losing their virginity with a mild indifference at best. Their mollycoddling parents however? Yeah, they have a bit of an issue with it. 

Making up the parents side of the story is Lisa (Leslie Mann), the mother of Julie who was left with a child, having had her heart broken chasing a boy when she was younger. She has separation anxiety and doesn’t want her daughter repeating her mistakes. Mitchell (John Cena), the father of Kayla, is a big softie at heart, highly overprotective and can’t come to terms with the fact his daughter is now on the brink of adulthood. Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), the estranged father of Sam, has been out of his daughters life for years, realises she is gay, wants to be a part of her life again and doesn’t want her making a mistake with a fat kid. 

We get to see the relationship between the parents and children in a rather quickfire montage within the films opening five minutes before the whole sex pact shenanigans is put into place. There’s a weird sort of symmetrical ying and yang effect that embodies the two groups and their relationships within Blockers. The parents are initially on close friendly terms before slowly growing apart over the years, but are brought back together with a common goal of scuppering any lewd antics. Meanwhile, the children have became inseparable, remaining so throughout, but then inevitably go their separate ways for college at the end. 

Now I don’t want to be giving the entirety of the films plot away, that would be stupid, but needless to say, evidence of the sex pact is revealed through an open group chat on a discarded laptop and the parents are whisked off on a hilarious cat and mouse chase with their unaware daughters. This takes place across the city and they do everything in their power to ‘block’ their children throughout. This is where the vast majority of the films comedic moments are to be found. Are some of their antics a little farfetched? Yes. Does it matter or hamper your enjoyment? Nope. This film is sheer unadulterated, comedic escapism.

I laughed the hardest at the adults series of unfortunate events. The girls have their moments too, but Mitchell in particular is by far the biggest provider of humour. The best examples of which being the “literally the copiest motherfucker” putdown; inadvertently being caught up in pitch black, blindfolded sexual games to chugging beer through the most unlikeliest of orifices. This film is worth watching for him alone. Lisa has her moments in her too. The electric shock incident with the TV was up there. Hunter isn’t the black sheep in this regard either, some of his facial expression are hilarious.

John Cena is slowly growing on me as an actor. He’s no Marlon Brando, nor will he ever be, but he’s improving incrementally every time I see him.

He’s one of the best things in Blockers and delivers a comedic masterclass with his antics. Ike Barinholtz is a chap I’ve long admired. I loved his performance in Suicide Squad and he’s great here too, arguably the standout. He goes from an obnoxious clown, out of touch with his daughter to becoming a father again whilst revealing his true, mellower nature. Leslie Mann was also extremely good as the over controlling, but ultimately well meaning mother that was Lisa.

Newton, Adlon and Viswanathan were all very decent. Each of them delivered authentic performances as teenagers experimenting with drink, drugs and just looking to have a good time. They genuinely felt like three high school friends that had known each other for years. The chemistry was there and hearing some of their crude remarks was both jarring and hilarious because it’s not something that I’m personally accustomed to hearing from female characters in films. If I was to pick a standout of the three I’d probably go for Viswanathan. 

Sam’s coming out story and uncertainty about how it would effect her friendship was one of the more emotive parts of the film. Her revulsion at actually going though with having sex with the fat kid was palpable. Julie’s battle for space and independence drove her mother to the brink whilst Kayla had such a free spirited, indifference to the whole thing, which was perfectly summed up by her trying a multitude of different drugs. Not to mention the deadpan, nonchalance with which she told her lab partner they were having sex that night. She had the best of the comedic moments in the girls scenes. 

Like I said previously, Blockers is a lighthearted, fun piece of comedic escapism. It’s one of the better comedies I’ve seen in the last few years and that’s because it explores some important themes on top of the humour. Most notably, the parents going through something of a mid-life crisis, almost living vicariously through their daughters and having to deal with them becoming independent adults, whilst also simultaneously letting them learn from their own mistakes and experiences. Which is something they all grow to realise in their own time towards the end. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Blockers. It was a great directing debut from Kay Cannon that had me roaring with laughter in quite a few moments. 

I would normally offer a viewing recommendation, good or bad, but this strikes me as a being potential marmite release. What I will say though, is that if you’ve enjoyed this genre before then this will not disappoint. 

Rating: 4/5

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