The scope of teen comedies hasn’t changed all that much in thirty years. In the ‘90s, there was American Pie and after that fans were treated to Superbad in 2007. Blockers, the latest entry into the dirty, yet charming variety of coming of age teen flicks captures two things amazingly well. One, it centers in on agency and womanhood and figuring out that your life is meant to be lived. Second, it proves that we can still sit back and enjoy a gross, yet engaging movie where “John Cena butt chugging” is an absolute thing.
The girls, Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) have been childhood friends and on Prom Night, they all make the decision that they should lose their virginities. Julie is the lone one in a committed relationship while Kayla believes she’s found the right suitor and Sam is wrestling with telling her friends that she’s gay. Who objects? Their parents of course who only want their girls to remain the pure, innocent and conservative kids they think they are.
What Blockers gets right, both as a coming of age comedy and a mid-life crisis one is urgency. The parents’ ultimate drive isn’t that their kids are about to do something they believe will change their lives, it is that the parents will ultimately be unnecessary and left behind. Somehow, all six individuals, parents and kids are not only hilarious, they’re also appeasing as sympathetic figures: a rare feat for a gross-out comedy.
Speaking of Cena, he as overbearing meathead dad Mitchell absolutely steals the show here. He and Viswanathan. As Leslie Mann’s Lisa is the clear definition of separation anxiety, the soon to be WWE Hall of Famer matches with physical comedy and amazing timing. The extremes get upped every time the parents think they’ve got the kids cornered, things flip out of their favor.
Kay Cannon’s directorial debut should be saluted. Having gotten her chops from penning all three Pitch Perfect movies, she uses all of her characters here as foils for one another. It’s a clear, concise movie where no joke feels like it lasts too long or comes up short. In a way, it’s the perfect first time for her — and a perfect entry into the genre.