Running Time: 102 minutes
Written by: Brian Kehoe & Jim Kehoe
Directed by: Kay Cannon
Featuring: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena , Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon
Mitchell: “I used to hold that girl in the palm of my hand.”
Marcie: “Kayla’s becoming a woman; you’re going to have to deal with that.”
There is no doubt that last year was a terrible time for the comedy genre, while many of the best laughs in movies came from action and comic book movies, the best example being the MCU movie “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017) with actors more synonymous with drama than comedy, giving some of the lighter moments of 2017. Now comes the DVD release of one of the better comedies from the past 12 months in “Blockers” (2018), although it is following some very good examples of the genre from 2018, including the surprisingly funny “Game Night” (2018). However unlike many comedies this one is a great example of a movie that is very definitely set in the present as well as being a movie that is not afraid to embrace reality with some biting satire that touches on the very real relevance of being an adolescent today coupled with being a parent. We are also equally shown what it is like being a parent in very different ways to very different children and how that landscape has changed over the past twenty-five years. “Blockers” is something that is quite rare, a comedy that is R-rated, that is at times smutty, at times audacious but is told from a very feminine point of view, whether that comes from the script (I doubt it), from the female director or from the experienced female producer (Tina Fey) we may never really know, one thing is for certain, this is a great comedy that tells us something about our children that grow up fast as well as their parents who sometimes just have to accept that fact or risk alienating them forever.
There is so much within this movie that on the surface is a complete misfire which explains why it was only a modest success at the box office, the initial trailers were not good as well as not being a great reflection of what was at the heart of the movie. The title is not fantastic either with a rooster then the name blockers on the advertising material (in case you missed it that’s ‘Cock Blockers’) which only lends to the image of this being a misogynistic movie about sex, with comedy thrown in which is not a reflection of the past two years of social and political commentary. However, when watching the movie it becomes apparent that there is more going on than meets the eye or in the advertising, in that we witness some not only gross out comedy but a plot that has something to say about roles of people in society as well as how we choose to interact with our children, other people who may be important to us in the short and long term.
“Blockers” has been written by Brian & Jim Kehoe who have very little experience in making movies but it has been directed by first timer Kay Cannon who has left her stamp all over this comedy in such a good way. The good news is that Cannon is probably better known for writing the screenplay to the excellent “Pitch Perfect” (2015) which like this movie is more than what can be seen in a trailer or on a poster, the bad news is that she is also responsible for the two sequels which are as reductive as a movie can get as well as being a product of ever diminishing returns. What is of particular excitement in regard to “Blockers” is that Cannon has been able to take a story that on the surface is seemingly as reductive as the two ‘Pitch Perfect’ sequels and put an original spin as well as her stamp on it and make it not only original but fun.
The movie revolves around Julie, Kayla and Sam who are three high school seniors that make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. Lisa, Mitchell and Hunter are three overprotective parents who flip out when they find out about their daughters’ plans. They soon join forces for a wild and chaotic quest to stop the girls from sealing the deal — no matter what the cost.
In many ways there are two sets of casts, one are the children, one are the parents, all of them are exceptional with the movie really being stolen by the parents, as they have all the heavy lifting to do as well as reaping the laughs. So it is important that the parents were cast well, boy were they, starting with John Cena who proved how funny he could be with “Trainwreck” (2015). Here he is actually playing a character who while in some ways is not a million miles away from himself, importantly he is playing a three dimensional fully formed father who in many ways is like real fathers everywhere but who has a very real arc that helps inform the movie in many ways. Then there is Leslie Mann who is the defacto lead of the movie as well as the parent who seems to have the most to lose with her daughter, who has to come to terms with her own daughter as well as the fact that she might be leaving, so coping is something she has to learn to deal with. Finally there is the very broad Ike Barinholtz who like many of the movies he appears in really steals the show, here he is not only playing a very outrageous character but someone who accepts people for who they are, which is a very post modern thing for a father to do, especially when you see his daughters arc which is very special indeed. The rest of the cast is made up of Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon who all play the daughters and are all exceptionally different as well as uniquely talented to play their respective parts that are all a joy to watch for any prospective audience.
What I loved about “Blockers” was the relationship between the three girls who are loyal to a fault, not only that but they are not three Hollywood idealised versions of what girls at the age should be. They are all three very different people who we get to know as people with a variety of personalities that have very different aims in their lives. Not only that they are all independent thinkers with actions that match, not only are their ideas as well as motives different from their parents but they are also different from each other but remain strong friends even as the end credits roll. Another element that is rarely seen is the idea of parents, whether single or not, having to let their children (who are now adults) go into the world by themselves letting them make their own decisions with the mistakes on their heads not the parents. It should be no surprise that by the end of the movie all of the characters are back in some kind of equilibrium with not only each other but also their own lives.
I recommend “Blockers” highly, if you missed it in theatres then you should definitely catch it on DVD, it is a great example of what a R-Rated comedy should be, it does not rely on its adult material but uses it to accentuate the plot and narrative to bring to the screen something that is truly special, a movie that makes a comment on life, shows differences in people as well as the commonalities that we have as well. This is a movie that could be viewed by the entire family in terms of how decisions are made in the heat of the moment and then how they can be walked back later. Something many people could learn a lesson from.
“Blockers” is out now on DVD.