This article previously appeared on Crossfader
Director: Kay Cannon
If there’s one thing I learned from watching BLOCKERS, it’s that I shouldn’t judge a movie by its premise. At first glance, a movie about three parents trying to stop their teenage daughters from losing their virginity seems so backward and cringe-inducing. But with a female director at the helm, we’re given an perspective on the touchy subject matter. Though it’s far from noteworthy, BLOCKERS definitely exceeds expectations, and provides a refreshing new take on the somewhat tired teen comedy genre.
The movie starts with the three parents sending their daughters off on their first day of elementary school. We’re introduced to over-protective single mom Lisa (Leslie Mann), sensitive and anxious dad Mitchell (John Cena), and irresponsible and neglectful dad Hunter (Ike Barinholtz). We see a montage of each of their three daughters, Julie, Kayla, and Sam, go through all their childhood milestones together and become the best of friends. It instantly feels like we’re being set up to mourn the loss of these three girls’ innocence, to side with the parents as they valiantly attempt to meddle in their children’s lives.
Surprisingly, we’re quickly assured that teenage experimentation is completely A-OK, whether the parents like it or not. When the three girls make a sex pact for prom night (#SEXPACT2018), we see how self-assured they are and how supportive they are of each other. There’s nothing shady or dangerous about it. They all just want to have good, clean, consensual fun with the objects of their desire. When an iMessage group chat on Julie’s open laptop exposes the girls’ plans, the parents go nuts and follow their daughters throughout the night to stop them from having sex. However, along the way, between all the R-rated hijinks, the parents learn to trust their kids and accept the fact that they are growing up.
Damn millennials with their man buns and fedoras
BLOCKERS is Kay Cannon’s directorial debut; she previously penned all three PITCH PERFECT films. She manages to deliver a teen sex comedy that is certainly of-the-times. Films like SUPERBAD and AMERICAN PIE have similar premises, but are very much from the teen boy perspective rather than that of the teen girl. BLOCKERS faces head-on the taboo that comes with female sexuality, and effectively communicates that it doesn’t have to be such a frightening, unmentionable thing. The teen girls in this movie are very cool, confident, and put together, even in times of distress. One of the girls is a lesbian and her loved ones accept her wholeheartedly. It’s a little utopian, seeing as the teen years end up being an epic mess for many of us, but if anything, it’s refreshing to see. I appreciate that the goal of these girls isn’t to become popular or win a boy’s heart, like what so many teen girl movies portray. There is no focus on the clichéd social groups of high school, just three girls with their own eclectic circle who care deeply about each other, with little fear of what other people think. This is not the high school I knew but hey, it’s something to aspire to.
There are some interesting themes at play, but admittedly, the comedy is very on-the-nose. It’s a goofy movie, but it’s genuinely funny due to the excellent cast. Seeing John Cena as a suburban dad is so ridiculous that it’s impossible not to laugh. Cena, Mann, and Barinholtz play off each other superbly as overbearing parents, and many of the laughs come from their banter alone. Does it go too far sometimes? A thousand times yes. This movie is not without the tropes of nearly every raunchy comedy of the last 20 years, particularly gratuitous vomit scenes and “tripping balls” drug scenes. As with most movies of the genre, it tries to push the raunch to the extreme to one-up the films that came before it. Prepare yourself for full frontal male nudity and a butt chugging scene that you won’t soon forget.
Papa John Cena will do anything to protect his little girl . . . anything
Mixed in with the comedy are some truly heartfelt, borderline afterschool special moments. At times the tone shifts too abruptly between penis jokes and emotional monologues. Heavy on the sex scenes and gross out comedy, this may not be the best film to see with your parents. But at the same time, several parts feel like they are more for parents than for teens, as the lessons geared at the adult crowd are heavy-handed and occasionally preachy. As a result, it’s a little hard to figure out who this film is for. However, despite its missteps, BLOCKERS does a decent job at presenting an edgy sense of humor while maintaining the right amount of woke-ness for young audiences in 2018.
After expecting a hot mess, I was surprised by how much of this movie worked. BLOCKERS may be utterly foolish and all over the place, but it’s truly entertaining and upends the stigma of young women coming to terms with their sexuality.