Joining the growing club of surprisingly solid films with pitiful trailers and marketing campaigns, “Blockers” provides a surprisingly insightful and forward thinking perspective to the concept of the teen sex comedy that addresses the issue of budding teenage sexuality with a refreshing honesty that few films in its genre carry.
When three high school seniors that have been best friends for life make a pact to lose their virginities on prom night, their parents, played by Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena, set out to prevent their daughters from exploring their sexuality for disturbingly oedipal motivations that set them on an adventure of ensuing hijinks beyond what any rational human being should be going through for anything.
From a standpoint of story concept and plot structure, “Blockers” is far from original. The structure is straight forward from start to finish and intended to optimize the set ups and punch lines of gags and jokes dependent squarely on the shoulders of the cast’s delivery, as well as falling into the trap of occasionally indulging too far into the exaggerated gag, alienating audiences that are willing to follow its internal logic and padding the film out about 10 minutes too long.
Whatever cracks begin to show in the film’s foundation by the halfway point however, are almost completely outshined by its qualities. The cast carries a chemistry that is frankly staggering. All of the daughters terrifically portray the various aspects of being stuck in the middle ground of a child inching ever so closely into adulthood and self sufficiency, from demystifying society’s weight placed on sex and virginity, to understanding its place in a relationship and even tastefully exploring the nature of sexual identity and gender preference in one’s partner.
Portrayed by Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon, Kathryn Newton, these girls could carry a movie on their own but the stars of the show nevertheless show up to work to deliver excellent performances not only for comedic delivery but to portray solid characters in an exaggerated yet cohesive narrative studying exactly why parents forget the burgeoning adulthood of their children enough to subject themselves to this level of humiliation.
Mann and Barinholtz deliver strongly as parents that identify as parents too intrinsically to let go of that identity and watchful wise guardians that know when their offspring is about to make a mistake that goes against their own nature respectively. The real surprise comes from John Cena, who plays against type as an emotional and loving giant teddy bear of a man that only gets aggressive as a measure to defend his loved ones. He has a ways to go before even hitting Dwayne Johnson or Dave Bautista levels of charisma but his potential is definitely there and slowly being actualized.
“Blockers” is unapologetic about the type of movie that it is, but it also succeeds in providing perspective, thoughtfulness, and heart along with talented humor that most sex comedies severely lack. It may never pretend to be high brow but it has far more happening under its hood than demanded of it.
4 out of 5
Graduating from Texas A&M University—Commerce with a bachelor's degree in News and Editorial Journalism, Jordan Wright has lived most of his adult life professionally critiquing films, from major blockbusters to indie dramas, and has no intentions of stopping.