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Blockers (dir. Cannon)

Image: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, and John Cena in Blockers. [Source: IMDB]

★★★☆☆

After three parents discover that their daughters have made a sex pact for their prom. The parents decide that they will stop at nothing to block their daughters, and a game of cat and mouse begins between the two groups.

Director: Kay Cannon. Starring: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon [15]

What stands out best from Blockers is its creativity and its use of conventional character types (but with a twist). John Cena makes for a humorous soft guy with a tough exterior, Ike Barinholtz is a fittingly off the wall carefree bachelor and most notably, Leslie Mann falls effortlessly into place as her usual loving mother with a few quirks. For Mann, it’s a role that she has certainly been typecast. She is a comfortable presence from the get-go because she knows how to draw lots of laughs from that character. Thankfully Cena and Berainholtz also know how to play into the tropes that make these characters universally funny, and through the direction both follow familiar but somehow still fresh story arcs.

While it uses a lot of conventional ideas and archetypal characters, the directions from the debut of Kay Cannon (writer of Pitch Perfect) are driven. She manages to weave some quite fitting messages of sexual autonomy and young teenage girls into an otherwise raunchy comedy about parents acting like children. Which is key to why Blockers is not just another goofy comedy, it rises above its crude humour and surprisingly, makes sure that there is substance behind it all, there are lessons to be learned and issues to be discussed.

Most importantly, however, it is just fun. There are plenty of moments to laugh out loud to, no matter your age and even some attempts to broaden the characters who are otherwise one-dimensional. But this doesn’t work out in the film’s favour, frankly, it’s because we don’t need the adult characters to have any more depth to them than they already get in being there to stop the “sex pact”. The one problem the film has is that it doesn’t give enough to the three teenagers, we never understand their motives, we never empathise or connect and seeing that this film is mainly speaking to that audience (especially with its messages) it would have been appropriate to have the audience understand the young girls and their emotions.

That’s not to say it doesn’t try, by far the most compelling of the teens is that which is played by Gideon Adlon. Why? Simply because the film spends some time giving tension, motives and substance to her character. Not in an overly dramatised way either, in a light somewhat goofy manner and her character is better for it. Which is unfortunate, because in Blocker’s hurried ending they brush over the moments that would have been the most touching. Leaving Blocker’s ending as a deflated mess, however, the one merit it has is that it did not attempt to plug a sequel, and instead had a jab at those kinds of endings.

Blockers is a typical raunchy, crude and humorous reflection of the openness around sex in today’s society. Equally, with this statement, the film makes attempts to keep its conventional story and characters fresh with some fittingly insightful comments. While it is sometimes goofy and askew it still works for the film. Despite Cannon’s choice to brush over touching moments in favour of its comedy which doesn’t always hit the mark. It achieves a downright good time, with plenty of laughs to be had.

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