Those who greenlight movies love a single sentence pitch. It’s easy to understand and it wastes no time at the table. This is probably how the meeting went.
“Okay, so it’s prom night, and three parents do whatever they can to stop their daughters from having sex after it’s discovered the girls have made a sexpact. That’s the pitch. That’s the setup. But here’s the clincher, and it’s on the poster. The film is called Blockers, but look closely and you’ll see a picture of a rooster (a cock) perched over the letter E. Remember in that other raunchy teen comedy back in 2007, Superbad, where a couple of cops never realized it, but they were stopping the leads from having sex? They called it ‘rooster blocking,’ only they used the other word. That’s what this film is really called. That’s who the parents are. It’s right there on the poster, hiding in plain sight.”
And there’s the synopsis, short and to the point. Three parents follow their daughters to the prom, and later to the hotel intending to c##kblock their teenagers from losing their virginity. And as anyone over the age of, let’s say, forty might think as they roll their eyes at the thought of sitting through another ‘R’ rated teenage sex comedy, just as you’d expect, Blockers is rude, crude, and raunchy. And it’s raunchy in that way you wouldn’t want to think of your teenage daughter acting raunchy. But what you might not expect is this: it’s also very funny. Among the smiles of constant amusement, the lewd though comical situations, the surprisingly witty dialog, and the butt-chug sequence (don’t ask), by the end of the film, you might count somewhere around six big laughs, and frankly that’s six more than expected.
The three girls in question have been best buddies from day one. When Lisa (Leslie Mann) films her daughter’s first day at school, two other little girls join the frame, greet each other, and enter the school together, ready to face the adventure of their lives. It’s a sweet and funny beginning, made all the more humorous by the comically tearful reaction of the on-looking parents having to say goodbye to their children for the first time. But cut to the final year before college and those three, sweet girls are now grown, and they have other things on their mind. “I’m having sex!” declares Lisa’s daughter, Julie (Kathryn Newton) to her two friends, Sam (Gideon Adlon) and Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan). Clearly, they all saw Superbad when their parents were out of the house. They lost their innocence years ago. Now they’re up for losing their virginity.
What makes Blockers so consistently comical is not so much the premise but the characters. In addition to the three girls, who each possess distinct, individual traits with their own agendas and expectations of what the night might bring, there are the three parents who are flat out funny. The perpetually girlie-voiced Leslie Mann is, as you would expect, immensely likable, even when her interfering though well-meaning character annoys; big guy John Cena plays against type as the muscle-bound, over protective, sensitive father, Mitchell, who can’t stop shedding tears of emotion at every opportunity; and Ike Barinhotlz as Hunter, the idiot, knuckle-head divorced dad with the Wallace & Gromit teeth who surprises all by occasionally coming across as the parent with the healthiest and most understanding attitude.
But perhaps best of all, under Kay Cannon’s direction, her first feature, what really makes Blockers work so surprisingly well is that all of the characters, even the minor walk-ons, have something likable about them, each with a funny line or an unexpectedly intelligent comical payoff. When young Julie drops red flower petals over the bed sheets in the way she says she saw it done in American Beauty, her boyfriend, Austin (Graham Phillips) asks, “You watched the whole thing?”
MPAA Rating: R Length: 102 Minutes Overall Rating: 7 (out of 10)