2018, R, 102 mins.
Leslie Mann as Lisa / Ike Barinholtz as Hunter / John Cena as Mitchell / Kathryn Newton as Julie / Geraldine Viswanathan as Kayla / Gideon Adlon as Sam
Directed by Kay Cannon / Written by Brian Kehoe and Jim Kehoe
Based on the one trailer that I saw for BLOCKERS beforehand, I had absolutely zero desire to screen this film.
On a pure surface
level, this teen sex comedy delves into material that's been so overdone
and has become pretty stale for the genre over the years - a group of
ultra horny high school students desperately try to become adults and lose
their virginity during prom night. There's
a very decided been-there, done-that formula to BLOCKERS, on top of
the fact that it's just as guilty as piling on the puerile gross out gags
that seem to be a proverbial dime a dozen for these types of films over
the years. We get bodily
fluid and function humor involving graphic nudity, public drunkenness,
explosive diarrhea, and mass puking (not in that order)...and so on and so
on. Superficially, BLOCKERS
hardly re-invents the big screen comedic wheel.
Kay Cannon (making her feature film debut) has an awful lot more shrewd
tricks up her sleeve to help her film segregate itself well apart from an
obviously crowed pack. So many - far too many to name in one sentence - teen
sex comedies are ostensibly told from the male perspective while on their
journeys to break their cherries, whereas BLOCKERS, rather refreshingly,
is told from the adolescent female perspective and, in turn, imparts a
considerable amount of understanding and compassion for its young
characters. I can't recall, off of the top of my head, another comedy
like this that showed the high school girls as the sexual aggressors in an
effort to get laid, and it's the uniqueness of prerogative that makes
BLOCKERS feel more enlightened and progressive than most.
Beyond that, the film also contains abundant truths about the
social awkwardness of maturing and how parents have a tremendous
difficulty in allowing their kids to grow up.
And yes, Cannon's film has ample crudeness permeated throughout,
but it marries that raunch with a sweet tempered handling of its
characters that makes them relatable, which is a tough dichotomy to pull
The sex starved
teens in question are Julie (Kathryn Newton) and her BFFs in Sam (Gideon
Adlon) and Kayla (Geraldine
Viswanathan), all of whom decide - pretty spontaneously and without much
thought - that the time is right on prom night to lose their virginity, so
they all make a pact to get the deed done by the end of the evening.
Julie already knows that she'll most likely bed her boyfriend
Austin (Graham Phillips), whereas Kayla - in a hilariously impromptu
moment - literally decides to nail the first boy she randomly points at in
the school cafeteria, Connor (Miles Robbins).
Sam, who's pretty firmly established early on as a closet lesbian,
meekly decides that she's go to the prom with the tubby and somewhat
obnoxious Chad (Jimmy Bellinger), although the thought of having
intercourse with him has little to no appeal.
Still, a girl pact is a girl pact, so Sam bolsters up the strength
to soldier on, every though she'd much rather have a bedroom rendezvous
with her crush, Angelica (Ramona Young).
extremely complicated for the trio of girls when their respective parents
find out of their extracurricular sextivities (via an open laptop that has
their text conversations appearing, which the hapless parents try to hysterically
decode the emoji heavy dialogue). Julie's
mom, Lisa (an on-point Leslie Mann), is the classic smothering and
overprotective helicopter mom that can't bare the thought of letting her
daughter out of her sight for one minute, let alone allowing her to get
lucky on prom night. Kayla's
dad is the hulkingly large, but emotionally soft centered Mitchell (John
Cena, the film's secret comedic weapon), who looks strong enough to pick
up any boy that wants to touch his daughter and hurtle him into the
stratosphere. Sam's largely
absentee loser father is Hunter (played with infectious sleaziness by Ike
Barinholtz), who oddly seems the most healthily open minded of the parents in
wanting to let his daughter have sex for the first time on her terms...and
with a fellow gay partner (he knows her secret), but when he realizes that
she's going to debase herself with an unsavory boy that sends him and the
two other parents on a night long mission to - ahem! - "cockblock
those mother fuckers!" (which is the film's title, by the way, with a
rooster symbol submitted in place of one clearly offensive word that would
not look good on billboard advertising).
There is a very
valid argument to be made that BLOCKERS is really about the
parents, which is true to a degree, seeing as much of the laugh out loud
humor on display (and this movie is very funny) is at the expense
of these pathetically clueless adults trying to infiltrate their way into
their daughters' prom night lives to ensure that they, rather ironically,
don't embarrass and debase themselves.
The night sees Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter trek to the prom at the
school that later spills over to a hotel and house party, the latter of
which shows the increasingly desperate Mitchell - in a brave effort to fit
and blend in with the other teens as to not break his cover as a parent -
chug massive quantities of beer...via a body cavity that is at the
polar opposite end of his mouth. This
nasty little moment demonstrates (a) Cena's commendable willingness to
throw vanity out the door and do anything to secure a laugh and
(b) just how far these guardians will go to prevent what they feel is a
disastrous decision for their daughters.
It also ends with one of the funniest lines I've heard in a comedy
in a long time from Mitchell, during which time Hunter questions his
dedication to their cause: "Hey, I'm an team player!
I just chugged a 40 through my asshole!"
other moments of scatological shenanigans sprinkled throughout (to its
detriment, there are times when it does lose a bit of sight on the core
thrust of its story in an effort to one up each new bawdy moment to the
next shocking extreme), but Cannon's film is smarter and more thoughtful
than most in the sense that it credibly navigates the whirlwind of
emotions that both its teen and adult characters go through in their
relationships with one another. There
are individual moments between these respective characters that feel
heartfelt and real, and Cannon especially seems to really understand how
young girls, for example, talk and interact with one another.
BLOCKERS, unlike so many other contemporary comedies, isn't solely
invested in being tastelessly vulgar (even though it earns its R rating).
It authentically deals with nagging parental worry and how that can
be a destructive force as well as showing its teens girls not as victims
and/or trophies of the sexual pursuits of boys.
This is driven home in a wonderfully meta scene in the film where
Kayla's sharp witted and liberal minded mother (Sarayu Blue) gives an acid
tongued speech about the unequal sexual politics that exists between boys
and girls: When boys lose their virginity it's a proud and manly
accomplishment, but when girls do they're either deemed as sluts or used
props to facilitate the boy's needs.
BLOCKERS makes a socially conscious effort to go against the gender
grain that has been so firmly entrenched by the male dominated films that
have come before it.
BLOCKERS is still a comedy that has jokes about dicks, projectile vomit,
and, let's not forget, "ass chugging."
Even with the most welcoming gender swapping of this browbeaten
genre, the film proves that even comedies with girls substituted in for
boys are just as capable of being predictably and sometimes numbingly
crass. Yet, Cannon, as
mentioned, isn't strictly compelled in making another gross out comedy,
but rather one that treats all of its characters with respect and
compassion and democratically allows for us to understand what makes them
all tick. BLOCKERS is reliably and steadily amusing throughout, no
doubt, but it also has something genuine to say about the pains of young
adults becoming adults and the plaguing anxieties of parents that can't
seem to let go. It's a very
rare thing to see a high school teen sex comedy that's done with
reasonable amounts of intelligence and empathy...and all while being able
to shoehorn in moments involving John Cena getting a tube and funnel
shoved up his derrière.