Directed by Kay Cannon
Starring John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon.
Close friends Julie, Kayla and Sam have grown up together, gone to school together and now Prom Night has arrived. They make a secret pact to lose their virginity but then their parents find out. And the race is on to stop it happening.
If 2017 was the Year Of Horror – and a literally bloody good year it was – what are the chances of 2018 being the Year Of Comedy? After the procession of dismally unfunny efforts churned out last year – with the exceptions of The Big Sick and Logan Lucky – it can’t do much worse. But this month has been bookended by comedies which promise more to come: first it was Game Night and now Blockers.
Neither premise nor title inspire confidence, making it an even bigger and more pleasant surprise. The idea of parents trying to stop their teenage daughters losing their virginity on Prom Night, the title and the cockerel in the marketing material all point towards something crass and potentially unfunny. Not so. The sexual humour is inevitably there, so is the physical, but it never falls into that dark hole of being crude. It’s an unexpectedly mature sex comedy, one where the parents are likeable but embarrassing as hell but where the kids have their moments as well. Just about anybody in the audience, teenagers and parents alike, will find something to identify with and laugh at. A lot.
Admittedly, there are moments when it dips. The frantic efforts of the three parents (John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz) to stop their daughters carrying out their plan range from a chugging contest, through decoding emojis and witnessing the freewheeling parents of one potential boyfriend having uninhibited sex. No wonder, then, that the trio need to take the occasional breather, so the film builds in serious moments, when parents and daughters have heart to hearts. It gives the film some genuine heart and warmth, verging on the sweet but never on the sickly, and allows the audience to rest its chuckle muscles in preparation for the next onslaught.
The first half of Blockers is the funnier of the two, as the story builds up to Prom Night. The script is full of nicely judged humour that doesn’t just produce consistent laughs but also develops the characters. And it’s helped by a really strong cast, especially John Cena as the archetypal embarrassing dad in his loud check shirt, combat shorts and a haircut that looks like it came from a police academy barbers. Over-protective of his daughter, ever so slightly sweet on Leslie Mann and generally one big wuss, he’ll do anything for his girl and it’s a great opportunity for Cena to show off the comedy chops that made such an impression in Sisters (2015). His timing is on the nail and the incongruity of his physical stature versus his being such a softie is milked for all its worth.
Not that he completely overshadows the rest of the cast. His Sisters co-star, Ike Barinholtz, is the black sheep among the parents, the absent father with a drink problem – and far too knowledgeable about texting! The three daughters, Julie, Kayla and Sam, played respectively by Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and Gideon Adlon, are spot on as well, creating distinct characters and getting laughs of their own, especially when it comes to technology. Yes, of course, their parents don’t have a clue, but it doesn’t stop them reading things they shouldn’t ……
Blockers is a grown up sex comedy with genuine feelings. Even more surprisingly, it’s never gross. It could do with a better title, but that cockerel in the poster should be crowing!
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Freda Cooper. Follow me on Twitter.