Film Review—Hey, ‘Blockers,’ Leave Them Kids Alone
Posted: Friday, April 6, 2018 – 5:56 PM
By Adam Sherman
When most people think of teen sex comedies, they think of films like American Pie or Porky’s, with the focus usually on teenage boys in the midst of puberty, the girls mainly serving as end goals, the adults mostly in the background or acting as wacky side character, the sex seen as a right of passage, and the action all culminating on prom night, graduation night or both. Unfortunately, it’s also formula that’s been repeated ad nauseam. For the teen sex comedy to survive into the foreseeable future, it needs to adapt to the times. But how?
How about switching the focus from the dudes to the girls… followed by the parents.
The directorial debut of Kay Cannon (writer of the Pitch Perfect trilogy) asks one simple question – what if the parents tried to seriously halt the hanky-panky in an R-rated teen comedy? Lisa (Leslie Mann), Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), and Mitchell (John Cena) have been in each other’s company ever since their daughters became friends a decade before. However, as their girls have grown up and closer, the trio has drifted apart. However, when the three parents learn of their daughters’ pact to lose their virginity, they must unite once more in order to stop them from (maybe) making a mistake. It’s totally for their daughters’ sake, and has nothing to with their own insecurities. Needless to say, hijinks ensue.
As demonstrated above, Blockers subverts the usual sex teen comedy norms by making what would be the meddling background parents into full-on protagonists and making the girls into the ones with sexual agency. Sex remains a metaphor for maturation, but instead of being viewed through the lens of the growers, it’s viewed through the lens of the ones who could be left behind. And yet, throughout the film, sex is never demonized, with several characters even remarking on the double standard of how guys losing their virginity is treated as an accomplishment in contrast to how girls doing the same is. In short, the film takes a rather progressive view of sex and relationships.
Of course, this all just the cherry on top of a very funny movie regardless. All the actors give good performances, with Cena managing to convey a tough, yet earnestly naive vibe, Mann serving as the light and life of the group, and even Barinholtz revealing more to his adulterous dad schtick than meets the eye. The trio of daughters and their boyfriends also have their moments. While the first act comes off as dull, the moment where the parents learn of their daughters’ pact is when the laughs really start to come a-rollin.’
Overall, Blockers cements that it is possible to preach progressive attitudes without sacrificing humor.
Blockers is distributed by Universal Pictures and opens in theaters on today.