Directed by: Kay Cannon
Written by: Brian Kehoe & Jim Kehoe
Starring: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Kathryn Newton, Ramona Young
No matter how much they try to slow down the process, parents must accept that their children will eventually grow up and have a sexual experience of some sort. The challenge comes from seeing someone you’ve known as a newborn turn into a sexual being, but it’s part of a natural life, which the bumbling trio of parents discover in the surprisingly sweet and sex-positive Blockers.
Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena), and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) all happen to be parents of three girls, who are all best friends. They each have different relationships with their daughters and they unite when they snoop and learn the girls plan to lose their virginities on prom night. It turns what should have been a quiet night for them into a game of trying to stop their daughters.
When viewing the promotional material and the usual crass humor involved with this sort of movie, I built fairly low expectations for what this film would provide. Fortunately, to my surprise, Blockers takes an incisive look at three different parents coming to terms with the reality that their daughters are growing up in such a compassionate and loving way. It certainly has plenty of the gross-out humor you would expect but its combination with its sweeter moments creates a balanced story hoping to uplift and it succeeds.
The three parents have different reasons for uniting. Lisa has raised her daughter, Julie (Kathryn Newton), by herself and has fostered an almost friend/parent relationship with her. Julie always shares her feelings with Lisa, which makes it difficult when Julie decides to attend UCLA in California for college. Mitchell has issues seeing his daughter Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) as anything other than his little girl. Nothing shows it more than when he does laundry and finds a thong believing it to be his wife. He playfully suggests it to his wife, even putting part of it in his mouth only for his wife to proclaim it belongs to their daughter. You can imagine his reaction. Then you have Hunter, who has not had much of a relationship with his daughter, Sam (Gideon Adlon), after separating with her mother. All of their reasons for trying to maintain their relationships with their daughters may be different, but their end goal remains the same, which involves stopping them from having sex with their dates.
The story then evolves into endless gags varying in quality, but it works because of the tremendous comedic performances by the trio of parents. Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz were great as expected, but John Cena really stole the show. A wrestler who struggled to find his groove in the acting world after starring in a set of action films to middling results. He has found success in the comedy world in the way he juxtaposes his incredible physique and portraying rather meek characters. Usually, a combination not seen advertised for men looking like Cena but he makes it work incredibly well. His timing in Blockers had me struggling to breathe for air at times. He even made the butt-chug scene work, which could have easily dissolved into yet another poorly constructed attempt at gross-out humor.
While the parents headline the film, the three daughters represent different viewpoints on sex and embody the message of the film. From my experience, it feels like every movie where prom becomes a focal point, it revolves around the guys trying to sleep with their prom dates. Blockers flips that over in showing the girls being determined to lose their virginities. Sex in media has such a male perspective and fixation, which only makes it shockingly refreshing to see something focusing on the female experience. Consent is spoken upon in such clear ways and one scene in particular with Kayla explicitly telling her date that she plans to have sex with him resulting in a great back and forth. Clear messaging and a positive insight has these three daughters teach their parents something after it going the other way around their entire lives.
Blockers finds Kay Cannon nailing her directorial debut after garnering acclaim as a writer for the Pitch Perfect films. As a director, she focuses on the tenderness of the emotional moments to feel earned even after all of the crazy shenanigans taking place with the parents. It allows for something, which could have just been messy to have a message, while also attempting to gross you out. It all comes together for a hilarious yet touching movie about growing up for the daughters and the parents. Everyone has to grow up and accept the reality of a new way of life about to occur.