Going into a comedy movie without context for what you are about to see is a risk in this modern era of raunchy comedy. That risk paid off with the surprisingly sweet “Blockers” as it tackles mid-life crisis and coming of age all in one hysterical package.
Directed by Kay Cannon(the director behind “Pitch Perfect”) and starring Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Kathryn Newton, Gideon Aldon, and Geraldine Viswanathan, “Blockers” ends up tackling the crisis of the rebellious teenager and the over-protective parent from the female perspective, giving our teenage protagonists agency not seen in other sex-obsessed teen films like American Pie. With that agency comes great terror on the part of the parents, who have not yet embraced the ideas that their little girls are women capable of making their own safe decisions, and whose antics drive the film.
Always one step behind their partying and oblivious offspring, the three parents embark on a wild night of breaking and entering, alternative beer chugging, and “Fast and Furious” style car chases in an attempt to stop the girls from going through with a plan to lose their virginity on prom night. Mann brings her manic intensity to the role of Lisa, while Cena’s vulnerable tough guy with the oversized upper body Mitchell is good for laughs, even when the movie can’t let some its jokes around his hair cut and tendency to cry die before they’re old. Barinholtz makes Hunter the most complex of the parents and manages to runs a gamut of emotions across his face in seconds when facing the various situations the parents find themselves in and the truths they face.
Of the teens, Viswanathan is the standout. Newton may be the charismatic leader Julie, and Aldon bringing life and representation to the existential crises that exist within high school in her exquisitely nerdy Sam, but Viswanathan brings the humor and comedic timing as Kayla that will make her the films breakout star.
Hidden within this R-rated comedy are messages that resonate with teens and parents of today, and are delivered with more light-heartedness than the films male-centric counterparts like “Superbad.” Despite starting the film with well-intentioned, if outdated, ideas eventually the trio of parents come to realize two things: female sexuality in the modern era is not something to be shamed and hidden, but to be embraced in a safe and consensual environment; and that there is an inevitable time in every parents life where they have to trust their children to make the right decisions for themselves and let go as they make the transition to adulthood. Each of the teens learns the lesson about safe and consensual sex themselves, with different end results that leave all three with happy memories and strides in personal growth.
Finally, a note. The film portrays three aspects of daily life without nearly a single comment and that presents a refreshing step forward in the fight for diversity and equality in film. Mitchell and Marcie, the parents of Kayla, are an interracial couple and there is not a single comment in sight about this fact. Hunter and Lisa are both single and their platonic friendship, while ridden with internal strife, is never romanticized or sexualized for laughs or plot. Lastly, the relationship between the three teenage girls does not bear the hallmarks of the cinematic female friendship, one that is competitive and ultimately negative, and instead portrays it as postive, uplifting, and full of the wild shared experiences known to these friendships the world over.
“Blockers” will not please all audience-goers due to the raunchy nature of the film. Brief graphic nudity, sex jokes, and butt-chugging aside, this film brings a refreshing look at many of the issues that present themselves in the daily lives of teens and their parents. Its postive portrayal of life, growth, and freidnships is one that will last the weekend box office and the trials of time to be a lasting comedic favorite.