By: BabyRuth (Two Beers) –
Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon) have been best friends nearly their entire lives. Now in their senior year, the three are preparing to move into young adulthood, starting with the most important part. No, not college, PROM! More specifically, after prom.
Julie has been in a long-term high school-serious relationship and confides in her friends that she has decided to lose her virginity on prom night. She has it all planned: music, special candles, and scattered rose petals “just like that romantic comedy American Beauty.” That sounds like a good idea to Kayla, though she’s a little more utilitarian about the whole thing, she just wants to get the act over with before going away to college, and randomly chooses the school’s man-bunned drug dealer as the lucky guy. Julie and Kayla make a pact to both have sex on prom night and to celebrate it annually with a trip to Olive Garden. Feeling left out of the unlimited breadsticks festivities, Sam joins in, though she’s been keeping a big secret about herself from her friends.
So the sex pact is a go!
Well, not if Julie, Kayla, and Sam’s parents, Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter (Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz respectively), have anything to say about it! The trio discover the plan after deciphering some text messages and team up to stop all the sex.
Each has their own reason. Lisa is terrified that Julie will make the same mistakes she did. Mitchell refuses to accept that his little girl is growing up and feels the need to protect her. Hunter, dealing with the guilt of not being there enough for Sam since his divorce with her mother, actually wants to stop Lisa and Mitchell from ruining their daughters’ night, but once he realizes Sam is about to make a mistake that she will likely regret (not for the reason you would assume), he’s on board with the plan.
At first glance, this film and the whole concept of it just seems awful and horribly outdated. Like something out of the 80s where Tony Danza would star as an overprotective father and oh yeah, that actually happened.
The trailer doesn’t really do it any favors either.
Nor does the marketing material
So what a great surprise that this movie is not just better than expected, but one of the best, and smartest, comedies in a very, very long time.
I cannot overstate this. Blockers is one of those rare gems where everything just aligns perfectly.
For one, it is absolutely laugh-out-loud hilarious. So many recent films in the genre are guilty of committing the worst movie comedy sin: laziness. You know what I’m talking about. A predictable punchline, a gross but not so funny sight gag, and the worst offender: overuse of just relying on the actors to adlib. Blockers, like last month’s excellent Game Night, steers clear of these crimes. The writing is sharp and clever, the beats are spot-on, and even though there are many sight gags, they are perfectly executed and often have an element of surprise which makes them all the more funny.
This can be credited to a winning combination of a very funny screenplay (by Brian and Jim Kehoe) as well as director Kay Cannon, whose improv background definitely plays a part in her seamless transition from writer (Pitch Perfect 2 & 3 as well as episodes of 30 Rock and New Girl among others) to director (this is her directorial debut). She knows what works and it shows through in what is the first of hopefully many films.
Back to the writing for a minute. It’s smart, sneakily so. In between all the projectile vomit and butt-chugging, there are some very progressive takeaways not often seen in this type of film. This is not about parents trying to protect their precious daughters’ flowers (I’m so, so sorry I just used the term “flower” like that). The girls are in full control of their actions and each has a specific character arc, as each adult does. It’s more about the relationships between the parents and children, as well as the ones between both trios, plus individual internal themes of making choices, letting go, and taking ownership of one’s sexuality.
The thing that really sets Blockers apart is that it has a rare quality: sweetness. Not that manufactured, last-act slapped-on schmaltzy sentimentality, but a genuine good-heartedness throughout. It has the feel of something from the Farrelly Brothers or Amy Heckerling. The characters are likable, all of them. There is vulgarity, but it’s never mean-spirited.
All three adult leads are mostly known for supporting roles, so it’s great to see them as the stars of the show.
Blockers marks John Cena’s graduation from cameo to main character (sorry, The Marine and 12 Rounds don’t really count). He once again proves his comedic chops, never afraid to look ridiculous.
Coming after Dwayne Johnson’s roles like…
Leslie Mann finally, can we say it again? FINALLY, gets a film that showcases her talent. Yes, at first, it seems this is the same role she always plays, but this character is more than a two-dimensional archetype and she gets to really show what she is capable of. One of her (and the film’s) funniest scenes takes place in a hotel room. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
And Ike Barinholtz, as he did in in last year’s Snatched (“Mimah” is still one of the funniest running gags in recent memory- don’t @ me.), once again steals every scene he’s in.
The three are each great in their individual scenes, but the gold is in their chemistry together and the way they bounce off each other effortlessly.
Though most of the focus centers on the adults’ hijinks, the younger cast gets plenty of room to shine and more than holds their own. The breakout here is likely to be Geraldine Viswanathan, who gets all the best lines, and delivers them with impeccable timing, but Newton and Adlon are just as good and the three together, like their middle-aged counterparts, mesh perfectly as a group. What’s great is that every character is fleshed out, even, surprisingly, the girls’ dates. These aren’t stereotypical horny teen boys trying to get laid, instead each one – even the smirky man-bunned one – is sympathetic and likable, and they are very funny additions to the ensemble.
And just when this cast couldn’t get any more fabulous, along comes a couple pee-yourself hilarious cameos by Gary Cole and Gina Gershon (completely redeeming herself after 9/11) as Julie’s boyfriend’s freaky parents. Keep an eye out for Hannibal Buress and June Diane Raphael too.
I’m sorry, but even if you have Super-Cena genes, there is no way a 100 lb girl can indulge in the amount of alcohol and drugs that Kayla does and be completely fine less than an hour later. Drug humor is pretty played out in general, and thankfully, for the most part (these are teens so it would be unrealistic to completely omit it), Blockers avoids overdoing it.
Not only is Blockers the best comedy of the year so far (and likely the entire year) but it’s the best one in a very long time. Don’t let the premise and/or the trailer influence your decision, I promise, you will be very surprised.
Blockers (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever “the pact” is mentioned
Take a Drink: for every use of the word “virginity”
Take a Drink: whenever a character does
Take a Drink: “that smirk!”
Chug: during the butt-chugging scene (the traditional chugging method is fine)
Take a Drink: whenever the kid with the light-up sneakers attempts a breakdancing routine
Do a Shot: projectile vomiting
Do a Shot: full frontal nudity!