Blockers review: Pitch Perfect writer Kay Cannon directs this timely, laugh-out-loud-so-much-it-hurts-your-face-funny and heartfelt comedy.
Blockers review by Andrew Gaudion.
It is not uncommon for a trailer to market a film poorly. You will often see horror trailers accentuate a different kind of horror to the actual film itself (Get Out comes to mind), or family friendly fair which undersells quite how charming and unique it is in a crowded territory of condescending family films (Paddington). The trailer for Blockers sells the kind of raunchy comedy that went out of fashion back in the early noughties, the kind of low brow affair that condemns a desire to lose virginity, making the act seem like an amoral sin, particularly when it comes to teenage girls. I am happy to report that the film itself is much more self-aware, intelligent and open-minded movie, something which the trailer didn’t express at all.
The film takes a concept similar to American Pie, as it follows a group of friends who make a sex pact together on prom night. But instead of a group of straight white guys, we have three young women making the pact, lifelong friends Julie (Kathryn Newton), Sam (Gideon Adion) and Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan). But when their parents get wind of the pact, they set out to make sure their daughters don’t go through with it, by any means necessary.
There is a sense that once upon a time the script for Blockers was a film that aligned itself more with the mindset of the parents, but thankfully somewhere down the line that more generic tale has been fashioned into something more timely and, as a result, infinitely more refreshing. From the off, the film very much aligns itself with the three girls, ensuring that they all come across as intelligent, strong-willed and distinct individuals. It is the parents who come across as the irrational, out of control nutcases.
The trio of parental figures played by Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barnholtz are incredibly game throughout. Mann has exceptional comic timing, Cena exudes his brand of lovable lug charisma and Barnholtz displays a surprising amount of heart. They never lose the sense that their irrational behaviour comes from a place of love, and while their behaviour does get progressively ludicrous and harder to get on board with, there is always somebody around to remind them just how illogical and, frankly, disrespectful their actions are towards their daughters.
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The three central friends are all wonderful company, with all three actresses putting across star-making performances that will undoubtedly put them on the map. Viswanathan in particular is very charismatic, while Adlon brings a great deal of heart to a character who has the most emotionally engaging arc. Kathryn Newton has perhaps the least interesting, more conventional character to play, but she is certainly charming enough and has a very easy-going chemistry with Mann as her on-screen Mum.
Blockers is a great example of not just a great studio comedy, but also what can be done within seemingly generic genre-fare to deliver something which feels fresh and very contemporary. One way in which it does that is by presenting a familiar comedy situation through a different lens, namely that of teenage girls exploring sexuality. It may seem like an easy solution, but it is frustratingly rare to see, but hopefully that’ll be a thing of the past going forward in a time which is seeking out more diverse characters and experiences to put on screen.
Blockers gives its three young leads a great deal of agency, it is their more close-minded parents who are the butt of many of the jokes throughout the fairly breezy run-time. It is the adults unreasonable actions that are punished, not the young girl’s decision to explore their sexuality. Kay Cannon (making her directorial debut after writing the Pitch Perfect franchise) has made a comedy that could well be as definitive for our times as American Pie was for the late 90’s/early noughties. Blockers is timely, laugh-out-loud-so-much-it-hurts-your-face-funny and heartfelt. If this is the future of studio comedy, bring it on. Just do me a favour, don’t watch the trailer.
Blockers review by Andrew Gaudion, March 2018.
Blockers previews in UK cinemas on March 24th and 25th before opening across the country on March 30th.