Movie review: ‘Blockers’
(Courtesy of Quantrell D. Colber/Universal Pictures)
Directed by Kay Cannon
Released Apr. 6
April 5, 2018 10:19 pm
“Blockers” is an embrace of female sexuality cleverly woven into a comedic film.
Emphasizing social messages and laugh-out-loud jokes alike, the movie revolves around three high school girls who plan to lose their virginity on the night of their senior prom. When their parents find out, they attempt to stop the children for various reasons, all related to their protection.
“Blockers” follows their journey with crudely-crafted comedic moments that enhance the sexual themes of the plot, right from penis jokes to the parents’ accidental involvement in another couple’s blindfolded sex game. However, the jokes also worked surprisingly well alongside serious topics, keeping the social commentary from feeling too forced.
Dirty jokes are just the surface material for the movie; the characters challenge stereotypes, including that of the damsel in distress, conveying deeper messages through the comedy. The overinvolved parents — Mitchell (John Cena), Lisa (Leslie Mann) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz)— are planning ways to stop their daughters from having sex, when Mitchell’s wife Marcie (Sarayu Blue) confronts them and reminds them that celebrating a boy’s loss of virginity and shaming a girl for the same act is a double standard. Her assertive objection to their actions is one of the many direct statements on social issues made by characters in the film.
But not all of the jokes were social commentaries in disguise, including a back-and-forth argument about the meaning of the eggplant emoji, for instance. The jokes that tackle culturally relevant topics tended to be witty and well-executed within the scenes. At one point, Lisa mentions she is not a bigot because she has been to all the marches, including the obscure tax-related ones. Her line is meant to elicit laughter but actually comments on the striking dissonance between some peoples’ actions and their motives behind the actions.
Occasionally, the plot leans more toward political commentary than an entertainment-only flick, and the polemic statements felt a little offbeat within the hilarity of the movie. Monologues on the disparity in the treatment of both sexes felt somewhat out of place in a movie so joke heavy. Marcie’s lecture on double standards, for example, slowed the pace of the film a bit even though it was a powerful onscreen moment.
A few of the purely comedic moments were also somewhat disturbing and worked too hard to establish shock value. Vomit is heavily featured in one scene when the kids make a getaway in a limo, which only becomes a problem when the gag continues for about a minute of runtime. By striking a balance between controlled jokes and nuanced commentary, parts of the film might have come across as better developed.
But aside from the minor offbeat hiccups, social themes and comedy are well-balanced and smoothly integrated. The movie neither glorifies the loss of virginity nor shames those who decide to wait. The several key moments between the parents and children feature coming-of-age conversations about self-discovery without preaching to the audience and alienating them in the process.
The compelling bond between children and parents is aided by the actors who give solid deliveries from start to finish. The six leads were well cast, but Mann and Geraldine Viswanathan stood out among the group. Mann’s rambling monologues painted her as a realistically nervous and insecure mother. Meanwhile, Viswanathan, who plays Kayla, confidently played an independent teenage girl while preventing her role from becoming the archetypical rebellious child. Though her character does what she wants, she also has emotional heart-to-hearts with her father, confiding in him about how much she values him.
Commendable acting and strong thematic messages come together in a comedic commentary on sexuality in “Blockers,” which, on the whole, does not take itself too seriously. The contrasting aspects of the film cooperate in an unlikely fashion to make a culturally-relevant movie that makes audiences laugh and think at the same time – a rare feat for many comedies today.