Teen sex comedies have been going through a rough spell for some time now. Ever since the seemingly 18th ‘American Pie’ film, the copy cat films became lazier and cruder for the sake of it. Also, a lot became increasingly sexist and, rightly so, people began to attack these films for having a “boy’s club” mentality. ‘Blockers’ however, manages to break free of this, embracing the notion that young women can also enjoy embracing their sexuality. What is also great is unlike similar films that came before it, the kids aren’t making increasingly stupid decisions, the interfering parents are.
Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena star as the parents who want to stop their kids, and all of them are great in their own ways. Mann’s Lisa is the most grounded of the parents, meaning she gets most of the heartfelt moments, but this doesn’t mean she isn’t funny. When given the chance, she causes rip-roaring laughter. Alongside her is someone I’m not the biggest fan of, but this film has warmed me towards Ike Barinholtz a bit more. Yes, he is too much at the start, but mellows out as the plot progresses. The star of ‘Blockers’ is undoubtedly John Cena. I grew up watching him in WWE and found his brief appearances in films such as ‘Trainwreck’ and ‘Sisters’ the highlights. Going in, I wasn’t sure if the switch from minor to lead role would work in his favour, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Put simply, he’s absolutely hilarious. Never afraid to make a fool of himself, but also never becoming too overbearing, Cena is note perfect and I can’t wait to see him in more substantial roles in the future. Easily the best WWE star to break into films since Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
This film could’ve easily concentrated on primarily the parents, but by giving all of the characters attention, it allowed the film to elevate into something much better than I expected.
On the opposite end, the three young adults also all get their time to shine. Relative newcomers Gideon Adlon and Geraldine Viswanathan don’t seem phased by sharing the screen with big names and naturally come across as funny without it feeling forced. You may recognise Kathryn Newton from this year’s ‘Lady Bird’ and ‘Three Billboards…’ and, like her character’s mum, she gets a few more emotional scenes which highlight her talents a bit more than the other two. However, all of them get their time to shine. As with most comedies nowadays, not every joke lands, but they all have at least one laugh out loud moment. This film could’ve easily concentrated on primarily the parents, but by giving all of the characters attention, it allowed the film to elevate into something much better than I expected.
However, the film does have flaws. For example, Sam’s subplot was very under-cooked. The idea was solid and it does have a resolution, but for long periods of the film it seemed as if they weren’t too sure how to develop the idea. There’s also a scene where a character explains why society deems it wrong for young girls to have sex but celebrates guys doing it. Yes, it was spot on, but the film was already cleverly tackling this idea, and having it spelt out for us was a little too on the nose.
While nowhere near the same league as ‘American Pie’ or ‘Superbad’, ‘it has definitely proven there’s still life within the genre.
Looking past these issues is relatively easy though, thanks to the cast giving it their all and a story being a lot smarter than the trailer gave it credit for. ‘Blockers’ has reignited the need for these kinds of films. While nowhere near the same league as ‘American Pie’ or ‘Superbad’, ‘it has definitely proven there’s still life within the genre. Like the big hitters before it, the cast are what make this film work and they are all going to go onto bigger and better things in the years to come.