Blockers proves that studio comedies are back.
Girls Night was funny but could have been a fluke. Game Night seemed to prove that there was some momentum building. Now, with Blockers (and also Tag on the way, which looks hilarious), it almost seems safe to say it: studio comedies are back.
They died sometime around when The Hangover sequels started coming out, one after another. Studios seemed to think that the only way to be funny was to be as gross and profane as possible, which lead to things like Due Date, most Melissa McCarthy movies and, the worst of all, Baywatch.
Finally, we’re moving past that — studios have learned that there are more effective ways to gain laughs, as this is a genre that can see real actual filmmakers do really talented things.
Kay Cannon, director of Blockers, is one of those people. This is Cannon making her directorial debut, and now I’m instantly curious to see what else she’s capable of — she clearly has a lot to say here, and she says it all with class and dignity.
Every teenager, ever, wants to have sex. This is an obvious given. Which is why the idea of a sex-pact — when a group of friends all decides that they’re going to lose their virginity — isn’t such a totally crazy idea. We’ve seen the premise played out in American Pie and a hundred other movies; it’s something that’s definitely still happening in high-schools today.
Which is why Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) decide it’s a good idea to make a sex pact of their own. The plan is simple: they’re all going to lose their virginity at the exact same time (which will make it even more special!) to their dates, right after prom. Julie has no problem with it, as she and her boyfriend have been talking about this for some time, and Kayla — the confident one of the group — knows that she can easily score with her chemistry partner and known drug dealer, Connor (Miles Robbins). It’s Sam who’s slightly more worried about the whole ordeal, but after being reluctantly dragged into the whole thing she manages to find a date as well.
That’s not the focus of the movie. We’ve seen that done before. That would be lame. Instead, this time, we’re following the parents of these three daughters.
Mitchell (John Cena), Lisa (Leslie Man) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) all met each other on their daughter’s first day of preschool. “I think our daughters are best friends….I guess that means were best friends!” Hunter pointed out.
That friendship didn’t last. Life got in the way as Mitchell became the overprotected father, Lisa became a single parent and Hunter was kicked out of his family completely (not for totally unjustifiable reasons).
After discovering the sex-pact, though, the three are suddenly brought together for an absurd and irresponsible mission: they’re going to walk in on their daughters guns-a-blazing and stop it from happening.
That means that they have to crash prom. And then, after that the after party. And the after-after party. They’re actually just really bad at showing up to places on time. But, of course, this leads the three of them into some crazy antics (i.e. butt-chugging), while teaching them a few things about themselves along the way.
Those things just so happen to include learning to let go, what it means to be a parent and accepting the fact that your kid doesn’t need you every step of the way. Not exactly concepts that sound like comedic gold, but that’s what Blockers does right. While this is an obscene and profane movie through and through, Cannon doesn’t hesitate to throw in some heart and emotions into the mix as well. The end result and overall conclusion could have been nothing more than a dumb gag, but Cannon chooses to go the higher route and instead delivers a real gut-punch.
Part of the reason why that’s able to work is the chemistry between all the actors feels so natural. That’s true for both the parents and the teenagers, as these three young girls interact with each other in a way that feels so natural to actual high-schoolers that it would actually make complete sense to find out these three were friends in real life. The adults, as well, have a natural back-and-forth to them. Their interactions can become a bit over-the-top at some points, as the script constantly throws them into these crazy situations that probably wouldn’t actually happen in real life, but there’s also a history between all of them and that ends up going a long way.
Of course, it’s funny too. Not just funny, but actually hilarious. I’m not going to spoil the jokes in here, obviously (and I’d recommend avoiding the trailer), but I was chuckling from beginning to end. There are times when it can wander into that overly-gross kind of way, but it rarely goes too far. The real draw, though, is our three leads — Leslie Mann is always great, John Cena has found his niche and should make more comedies and Ike Barinholtz, best known for Suicide Squad of all things, was the funniest of them all.
While I may have laughed more in both Girls Trip and Game Night, I think I respect what Blockers is trying to do the most out of the three. This is a movie about human error. Teenagers are going to make mistakes. That’s part of growing up. Parents have to sit there and watch those mistakes. That’s never easy. Sometimes all a parent wants to do is help, while all the teenager wants is for them to let go. Somewhere there might be a happy medium of how to simultaneously deal with both those things and Blockers about the struggle to find it. Of course, this is a mainstream film so everything winds up working out in the end, but the fact that Cannon uses Blockers to say this and doesn’t just turn it into an over-simplification of sex and the teenage mind is without a doubt praiseworthy.
'Blockers' review: it's 'American Pie,' only this time it's actually empowering7