As an ensemble piece, Blockers has a lot to juggle – it’s basically two three-handers colliding as the parents and children both fall into their own prom night misadventures, but the film also has to make time for the three parent-daughter relationships. Thankfully, on each account Blockers is a roaring success. Of course the big ‘surprise’ of Blockers is how hilarious John Cena is (like we didn’t know already), but it’s important to applaud how well he handles the emotional angle – and Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz are both astounding on this front as well.
Credit is definitely due to the film’s young cast; all three wow in their own ways. Kathryn Newton and Gideon Adlon get a little trapped in their own teenager clichés, but both shine in their scenes with Mann and Barinholtz, their respective on-screen parents. As Cena’s daughter Kayla, Geraldine Viswanathan is one to watch – standing out among a stacked cast with her winning delivery.
Overall, Blockers isn’t exactly nuanced, but that’s fine – no one should be coming here for a sociology lecture. Rather, it feels like a movie that’s about three real teenagers growing up. They’re real kids, and while their parents get caught in absurd situations, the script feels appropriately rooted in the 21st century. It’s a shame that Blockers frequently ignores this topical pith and goes for the easy gags. Sure, they are some big laughs in all the butt chugging and balls grabbing, but so often these moments trample over a smarter joke.
Frequently hilarious and bolstered by a cast with incredible chemistry, Blockers could contend with some of the fantastic indie comedies of recent years that are approaching the coming-of-age genre with wit and warmth. Unfortunately, too often Blockers settles for the cheap and crass.
CAST: Kathryn Newton, John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz
DIRECTOR: Kay Cannon
WRITERS: Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, Eben Russell
SYNOPSIS: Three parents try to stop their daughters from having sex on Prom night.