Blockers, whose title is cannily preceded with the image of a rooster for anyone who needs further explanation, centers around three parents who make it their night’s mission to stop their respective daughters from having sex on prom night. The parents first meet on their respective kids’ first day of school and an instant bond forms. Cut to eighteen years later, and their daughters are now talking about college and of course, prom night. When Julie (Katheryn Newton) decides to have sex with her boyfriend on their special night, she invites her two bffs Sam (Gideon Adlon, Mustang, American Crime) and Kayle (Geraldine Viswanathan, EMO the Musical, Janet King) to join her.
Together, they create a sex pact that begins a flurry of text messages hidden under layers of cryptic emojis so that no one will uncover their secret plans. However, due to a small technological error on Julie’s part, the concerned parents discover the girls’ plan, setting in motion the hilarious, raunchy, and yes, heartfelt events that ensue.
The parents, single mom Lisa (Leslie Mann, The Other Woman, This Is 40), dad Hunter (Ike Barinholtz, Bright, The Mindy Project), and absentee father Mitchell (John Cena, Ferdinand, Daddy’s Home 2) all do great work playing up the extremely raunchy scenes that earn the film its R-rated status. Watch for Mitchell to get into an amazingly awkward butt beer contest, or hilarious ones like when Lisa gets caught in her daughter’s hotel room where she is about to lose her virginity.
While Cena has wonderful comedic timing that shines throughout, it was the heartfelt scene shared with his daughter that made me believe he truly loved her, despite succumbing to and/or being forced into the role of an absentee father in her life.
What sets this comedy apart from most others is an inherent sweetness that many comedies lack, especially in the teen sex genre. Characters and story stood out to me as it becomes clear from the beginning that it’s not just about laughs, but provoking a real conversation. Directed by Kay Cannon, Blockers takes the time to really delve into the emotions and character arcs of the parents, skillfully coinciding their crazy events with the storyline. No spoilers, but there’s a moment that will make unsuspecting audiences gasp, which I thought was ingenious and shows just how invested into the film we are by that point.
It might be argued the tenderness one feels in the movie is in large part due to the fact that Kay Cannon, a woman, directed it. However, one shouldn’t overlook that writers Brian and Jim Kehoe are both males. The film touches on a subject that some might be sensitive to as the whole story focuses on a mother and two fathers trying to prevent their teenage daughters from losing their virginity. Nowhere in the film are the teenage boys mentioned, which might suggest that society’s views about the two sexes are still very much grounded in a different era, despite gender equalization that so many are fighting for these days.
Perhaps this film was made in spite of that as a way to show the world just how archaic so many parents are when it comes to learning about and accepting their teenager’s sexuality. The question then becomes, at what age is a person old enough to decide for themselves if they are ready to have sex? There are laws that dictate when someone can drive, drink and even vote, but sex has largely been left out of the legal conversation. As it should be, at least according to some people.
Blockers is surprisingly thought provoking for a raunchy comedy, one that both teens and their parents can enjoy equally and on their own levels. It’s also a fun time that’s easy on both the eyes and soul, one that left me happy and upbeat as I left the theater. I’m sure some will quibble at the film’s very generous way of presenting the passage of time (the majority of events take place during one night), but that’s just a small nitpick. Don’t let the R-rating dissuade you: Blockers is one of the sweetest, most heartfelt comedies I’ve seen this year.