Thursday, 9 August 2018

Blockers (2018)

Blockers is a comedy that looked pretty awful from the first trailer. The rest of the advertising I saw for it didn't make it look much better. Then people went to see it and I started to hear some say that it was actually quite good. Some even said that it was very funny, with particular praise going to John Cena for his performance. I was willing to give it a go, and started to feel more optimistic about it. Well, it wasn't as bad as those trailers made it out to be, but it wasn't great either.

Cena, Leslie Mann, and Ike Barinholtz play three parents who discover that their daughters (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon) have made a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. Yes, this is a nightmare scenario for most parents. So they set out to put a stop to things. Well, Cena and Mann want to make sure nothing happens. Barinholtz is the cooler (aka less responsible) parent who tags along because he doesn't want the others embarrassing his daughter. And that's the premise.

Directed by Kay Cannon, making her feature debut in this role (although she has a number of decent credits as a producer), and written by Brian and Jim Kehoe (who have one previous feature and a couple of shorts under their belts), Blockers is handled slickly and professionally enough. The characters are sketched out quickly, although they're not the deepest, and the various elements that will cause more problems for the parental pursuit are made glaringly obvious. This is not a film that cares for subtlety.

Cena IS very good in his role, and he's the funniest of the three concerned parents. Barinholtz can be slightly irritating at times, due to his character, but also does well. Mann gets the short end of the stick, given the least of the comedic material as the writers instead focus on her stress and overprotective nature (similar to the way Cena is shown, but his ends up creating more laughs). That's a shame, because Mann can be very funny with the right material. What proves to be a pleasant surprise is that the film doesn't focus on the parents as much as you might think. It also gives plenty of time to Newton, Viswanathan, and Adlon, showing how they differ from one another and complement one another in their close friendship. All three young women do well, although it seems as if, once again, the writers had less to give the one of them (Newton, playing the daughter of Mann's character, funnily enough). You also get to find out more about their dates for the evening, and another potential love interest (Ramona Young) for one of the three, despite the fact that she is hoping to forge ahead and see if sex with a guy will change how she feels about her sexuality.

Considering the main premise, Blockers takes time to consider what the younger characters are going through, in terms of friendship, peer pressure, being on the brink of adulthood, and relations with their parents. It also manages to move deftly enough from the comedy to the sweeter moments, which come along, predictably enough, in the final act. What it doesn't do so well is provide the big laughs. You get a lot of chuckles, which are fine, but there aren't any great set-pieces here, and the script isn't smart and/or tight enough to make up for that.

Enjoyable enough, especially if you find Cena likable, but it's not one I can see anyone revisiting too many times.


You can buy the blu ray here.
American friends can buy it here.

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