Parents cock-blocking their kids. This is where cinema is at in 2018. Teenage girls being reminded that they don’t know better and need John Cena to come save them. But while it sounds a bit on the nose, it’s thankfully not the steaming pile of crap it could have been.
Blockers takes place over the course of one night, with friends Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon) all making a pact to lose their V-plates on prom night. After Julie leaves her messenger app open on her laptop, her clingy single mother, Lisa (Leslie Mann) stumbles across it. Sharing the messages with Kayla’s intimidating but ultimately sensitive father, Mitchell (John Cena), and Sam’s immature and rarely there dad, Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), they try to interpret the emojis before them (because young people only communicate in emojis, k?) Being lame old parents they don’t quite get it until “#SexPact2018” comes up on the screen, and then all hell breaks loose. (Really, it’s just amazing they know what a hashtag even is.) Banding together they agree to stop their daughters having sex because eighteen-year-olds don’t know what they hell they’re doing, clearly.
The film is pretty evenly spread between the parents and teenagers’ storylines, and is actually fairly balanced between the two. While the parents are the butt of most of the jokes (literally for John Cena’s character) and clearly the less cool of the two generations, they’re not the villains and they all demonstrate positive qualities. As someone who loves teen films and still considers herself a teenager at heart, this reviewer was slightly disturbed to find herself relating more to the lame adults this time around. Even though it seems clear they should let their daughters freakin’ live, #AMMIRIGHT?
The film is unsurprisingly predictable in many ways. Going in I was able to accurately guess the narrative trajectories for two of the three girls, but it was satisfying to discover (early in the film) the third, less obvious one. Brian and Jim Kehoe’s characters thankfully aren’t as clichéd as other writers might have made them and it’s a welcome change to see sexually empowered young women presented on screen. The girls’ partners of choice, similarly, are not all sex-hungry arseholes, either. One is a bit of a douche, sure, but he’s not disrespectful. Everyone plays their part well, but it’s probably not a huge stretch for any of the actors cast here.
Kay Cannon is in the director’s chair for the first time, following on from her writing duties in the Pitch Perfect films. The film develops at an appropriate pace, sustaining interest throughout. A particular highlight is a hilarious reference to Jurassic Park (GET IT. BECAUSE THE PARENTS ARE DINOSAURS. LOLS). It’s not going to be the funniest film of the year, but it certainly has enough laughs to be worth a watch, though there would be nothing lost waiting for this to show up on Netflix.
This review was first published on 29th March 2018 at Film Blerg.