BLOCKERS

Teen comedies can be difficult to fully connect to if you’re not a teen. Adult comedies can be difficult to fully connect to if you’re not an adult. There are just different life experiences that one or the other are going through, sometimes making it hard to fully empathize or understand. Normally, the other party, whether it be adults or teens, are patronized to appease the target audience. Regardless of age, though, they’re still people all the same who fight their own battles. It’s not often when a comedy explores both angles. 

It’s prom night for Julie (Kathryn Newton) and her two best friends Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon). Julie plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, causing Kayla and Sam to form a sex pact with her, also planning to lose their virginity. When their parents Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena), and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) find out about this pact, they all rush out to the prom to stop them, quite possibly making them the biggest [cock]Blockers of all time. 

As much as I love raunchy and crude humor, I like having a little bit of heart to it. When I first saw the poster for Blockers, I immediately wrote it off as a broad, raunchy comedy made by out of touch adults in order to appeal to teenagers. I mean, it’s all there in the title. Then I saw who was behind it. Produced by the two best comedy screenwriters working today, Seth Rogen and Evan Golderg, and directed by Kay Canon of the very fun Pitch Perfect, I was immediately intrigued. Perhaps there is something worthwhile here after all, and as it turns out, there was, although I wasn’t sure for the first twenty minutes, or so. When the characters and plotlines were all getting set-up, a lot of the jokes were falling flat, especially with the teenage daughters. The three actresses all do a decent job, but they’re a lot less experienced with acting, particularly in comedy, as opposed to their adult counterparts. It didn’t help that a lot of the teenage dialogue felt inauthentic, especially since it didn’t seem like girls would be saying this stuff. Then again, I haven’t been in high school in almost a decade, so maybe teenage girls do talk like this. What do I know? 

Since a majority of the first act focuses on the teens, I wasn’t laughing very much, fearing that the rest of the runtime would just provide some sporadic chuckles. Then the plot kicks into gear and the three parental figures take the stage, making this one of funniest times I’ve had at the movies in a while. Mann, Cena, and Barinholtz have terrific chemistry with each other, all three of them playing to their strengths. Aside from his small role in Trainwreck, I’ve never seen John Cena in anything else, so he genuinely surprised me here. While he definitely seems like the limited type of actor who works best in certain roles, he has impeccable timing and delivery, nearly every line from him making me laugh. He plays the straight-laced dad to perfection and he’s a nice compliment to Barinholtz’s more deadbeat father and Mann’s naïve, mama bear attitude. When these three are together and trying to navigate this foreign teenage landscape, it’s a laugh a minute. 

While the title and poster wouldn’t make you think so, this is actually quite a mature comedy that treats the subject matter with respect. It’s raunchy, but there’s an innocent sincerity to it all. That’s mostly due to all of the characters being decently developed, which includes the girl’s various prom dates, and even one scene characters. Topics like teens having sex and sexual orientation are handled surprisingly well, without coming off as pandering. It all felt very natural in the grand scheme of these characters and their story. There were a lot of surprising turns in the story where everybody develops in a believable way.

Despite the subject matter, I found Blockers to be one of those rare adult comedies that can be enjoyed by both parents and their teenage children. Since every character from the adults to the kids are developed in their own ways, there’s something that pretty much anybody is able to connect to. It also helps that the film is hilarious, mostly making perfect use of its talented cast, even if some of them excel more than the others. Another hit for Rogen and Goldberg’s Point Grey Pictures. 

7.5/10

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