by Alan Yudman
If you have daughters, BLOCKERS may not be a movie you want to see. Here’s the premise: Three high school senior girls who have been friends throughout their school years make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. So, yeah. If you have one or more daughters this will stress you out.
But for everyone else, or parents with a sense of humor about it, this is one funny way to spend an evening. I’ve only discussed half the premise. The rest is this: the parents of those three girls find out about #SEXPACT2018 and make it their mission to stop them art all costs. Those three parents are Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena. They are a hilarious threesome. Mann is a single mom whose beautiful, popular daughter is the first to commit to the plan. Barinholtz is a divorced and absent dad whose daughter is reluctant mainly because she knows she is a lesbian. Cena is an overprotective stay-at-home dad who doesn’t even acknowledge what is right in front of him.
Mann is always the perfect comic actor. In this case she thinks she and her daughter are best buds and can’t imagine she wouldn’t have discussed this with her. Barinholtz is the stereotype of the absent Dad— permissive and trying to do what he can to win his daughter’s love. Cena is really finding a niche in comedy. His roles always play off his physique. In this case you’d expect him to be the tough, no-nonsense dad. Instead he is the most sensitive of the three.. crying at every key moment in his daughter’s life. It’s a running joke and works every time.
This isn’t the best comedy ever. It has its flaws. Barinholtz’s motivations aren’t clearly drawn. Cena’s status as a stay-at-home dad is presumed and not defined well. The girls motivations are pretty thin and the individual resolutions to their nights seem a bit unearned. But there are a ton of great scenes and great jokes that make you accept those flaws as minor.
The three girls are all solid. Kathryn Newton is having a year. After supporting roles in two Oscar nominated films (LADY BIRD and THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI) her star is definitely on the rise. She does nothing to change that in her role as Mann’s daughter Julie. Gideon Adlon (yes, daughter of Pamela Adlon) is Barinholtz’s gender unsure daughter. But the one who steals the show for me is Geraldine Viswanathan. She plays Cena’s “jock” daughter Kayla. She has to display the most range of the three friends. and Visnawathan nails it all. She is definitely the breakout star in this group.
Kudos to Director Kay Cannon and the writers for a portrayal of a young lesbian character. I’m sure there will be critics of how it is sort of brushed off and not really “dealt” with. Here’s a thought. Maybe that’s progress. Maybe treating it as just another story and not attaching huge political or emotional consequences to it means that we are more accepting. Hey, any sign of hope in the era of Trump is worth noting.
Cannon has plenty of comedy writing credits from 30 ROCK to the PITCH PERFECT films. She does a great job directing the action.. keeping it light most of the time and serious when necessary. Looking forward to her next film.
BLOCKERS isn’t going to win any awards, but if you’re looking for a laugh or a dozen in less than two hours, then this is the movie for you.