By Jack Dignan
Parents come in all shapes and sizes. They can be fun, caring, absent, overly involved, embarrassing to be around or just about anything. And while it may be argued that no two parents are alike, Blockers, the new raunchy comedy hitting theatres next week, seems to argue that while they may have their differences, there’s one thing that unites them all: their fierce determination to have their children remain as sweet and innocent as the day they were born. And what does that mean? Well, no sex, of course. So when prom night comes around, it’s up to these three parents to stop their children from cementing their adulthood.
Blockers is every bit as stupid as it sounds, and yet at the same time, it’s not actually all that terrible either. John Cena, who you may remember as the star of last year’s Academy Award nominated animated film Ferdinand, plays Mitchell, a protective but overall caring father to his daughter Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan). Kayla and her two best friends Julie (Kathryn Newton) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) decide that they’re ready to have sex. To make it special, they each agree to do it on prom night, finding the perfect match and each experiencing in on the same night. But word gets out. Their parents become aware. So Mitchell teams up with fellow parents Lisa (Leslie Mann) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) to prevent their daughters from going all the way.
The plot is absolutely ludicrous, but if you roll with it and embrace the idiocy and look past the line of believability, there’s plenty of raunchy, adult-oriented humour to be found. Leave your kids at home, folks. Parents are bound to get a kick out of this film, with the three on-screen parents giving a little something for everyone. There’s the dad who was never there, the dad who’s there too much, and the mum who just wants to be involved. So yes, even all you absentee parents will be able to relate to this surprise comedy hit. And hey, it may even ignite a spark of love inside of your cold, black, broken hearts.
John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz are the film’s three star players. Surprisingly enough, the screen time between the adult cast and the teenage cast is split fairly evenly, almost making this a multi-narrative story in a way, but it’s the adults who steal the show. Their comedic chemistry is impeccable, leading to a number of unforgettable sequences involving beer chugging, nude hide and seek and so much more. Cena sometimes feels as though he’s trying too hard, but when he works he works, and Blockers is far from the worst film in his filmography (remember that time he popped up in Fred: The Movie? Yeah, I’m trying to forget that too).
Sadly, it’s the teenage cast that brings the film down. Each of the three daughters do their best with what they’re given, and I definitely don’t think there’s any single performer who brings the whole thing down, but they’re severely underwritten and, quite frankly, rather annoying. Kathryn Newton’s reoccurring joke is that she takes too many selfies. When it’s not funny the first time, it’s not going to be funny the seventh. Their storyline does lead to a somewhat sentimental finale that does its best to tug on the heartstrings while bringing in a real world conversation about being in charge of your bodies, but the journey there is a mixed bag.
Blockers doesn’t boast with cinematic beauty or anything memorable in the technical side of things, but at the end of day it’s just a fun movie. Kay Cannon’s directorial debut makes evident her room to improve, but describing it as bad would be unfair. It’s not. If anything, it’s fine, and for a film that really shouldn’t have worked in the first place, fine is good enough with me. Where else are you going to see John Cena chug beer up his ass and throw a dude through a wall in the same movie? Exactly. Didn’t see that in The Marine.
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