As someone who doesn’t watch many R-rated comedies, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into Blockers. Most of the film’s elements–fake crying (especially from John Cena), unrealistic car crashes, and a few naked butt shots–were not too surprising. But the film offered something else that did surprise me: a lot of heart.
Blockers is a story told from two parallel perspectives over the course of a single day: prom. Julie, Kayla, and Sam are three high schoolers who have been friends since they were little girls. Julie plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend on prom night, so Kayla and Sam decide they’ll lose their virginity, too, forming a sex pact. In addition to their hormones, the young women each have an archetypal identifier – Julie dreams of going to UCLA, Kayla is a sports superstar, and Sam is a closeted lesbian.
Of course, each girl has an angst-ridden, complicated relationship with her parents. Lonely single mother Lisa (Leslie Mann) doesn’t want Julie to move all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles for college. Mitchell (John Cena) is the stereotypical dad who doesn’t want any boys touching his daughter (especially her prom date, who has pierced ears and a man bun and laces his baked goods with drugs). Ever since cheating on his now ex-wife, Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) has missed most of Sam’s childhood and hopes that renting her a limo for prom can engender goodwill.
When the three parents discover that their daughters plan to lose their virginity at prom, they set off on a mission to stop the girls. Naturally, hilarity ensues. From spontaneous butt-chugging contests (a convenient opportunity to reveal Cena’s muscular thighs) to lost Lyft drivers, nothing goes according to plan. Amid the mishaps, the three adults bond over their insecurities about parenting and patch up their fractured friendship. It’s all very sweet, even when Cena is blatantly trying not to smile while crying. However, it’s all relatively predictable. The good news is that most people don’t watch comedies for the thrilling plots. People watch for the laughs, and Blockers decently delivers in that department.
In hindsight, it’s not surprising that this comedy was directed by a female (Kay Cannon). Some of the dialogue was seemingly constructed solely to promote feminist talking points. In one scene, Mitchell brings Lisa and Hunter to his house in the middle of their quest. When his wife finds out what they’re up to, she launches into a rant about letting women make choices about their own bodies. She wonders aloud why men are praised when they lose their virginity, while women are protected from it like “damsels in distress.” Feminists often complain that men are applauded for having sex while women are shamed. Personally, I haven’t seen either sex receive shame or praise for doing it. The truth is, most people really don’t care about your sex life.
Despite its predictability and other misgivings, Blockers is a solid raunchy comedy. It manages to balance comical and cringe-worthy moments with softer, heartwarming bits. The cast members also have great chemistry. Older viewers will be able to relate to the parents’ cluelessness about what an eggplant emoji represents, and the younger crowd will connect with the teenage characters’ angst. Blockers is a comedy about family – just not a family comedy.