Starring: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon, Miles Robbins, Graham Phillips, Jimmy Belinger
Director: Kay Cannon
Writer: Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe
Reviewed by Sidney Morgan
This review CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
Prom night. That magical night. That one night where students let go, celebrating the end of their high school career. Dancing. Partying. Having fun. The lead-up and actual event are filled with so many episodic opportunities. They’ve lead to quite a few memorable movie moments. Marty’s playing that oldie (or new…), Johnny B. Goode, desperately hoping his parents kiss in Back to the Future, and Ronald who finally understanding the meaning of true love, asks Cindy to prom in Can’t Buy Me Love. Even horror has used it, as Kim and her friends are made to pay for their past deeds in Prom Night, or as Carrie is mocked and humiliated in front of her peers in Carrie. But other than the romantic, dramatic and horrific moments, prom is rife for comedy.
Not only is prom a milestone celebration, but it’s also an occasion for bonding. Best friends attend together with their dates, sharing in the memories. Oh, and of course, let’s not forget about the pact. What stronger bonding moment is there than the making of that entente between our hormone raging teens? Yes, the pact in question is that rite of passage into adulthood, that perfect choreographed event that takes place on prom night, where subsequent misadventures to fulfill it can perfectly fuel a movie, as it does in Blockers.
Unlike Jim, Chris, Kevin, and Paul (American Pie), the pact makers in Blockers are Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon). Julie is the only one with a boyfriend and believes this to be the next step in their relationship. Kayla doesn’t have one, but she’s in on the pact and makes her prom date Connor the as-yet-unaware chosen one. And Sam? Well, she’s more hesitant but leaves the door open for joining as well. And there’s one more thing… This pact, this well-thought idea, is made on the morning of their prom!
The movie is not really about the girls. It is called Blockers after all, (with a not so subtle rooster on the poster) and is about the parents. Catching wind of the plan their daughters have hatched, Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) make their own pact to stop their daughters. Most of the movie is about their own misadventures as they go from venue to venue, looking for them. But does it work? Is this an interesting enough twist to make the movie worth watching?
Blockers doesn’t shy away from crude humor. The girls are direct and unabashed about their choices. And the adults engage in behaviors that are simply over-the-top, from Mitchell going toe to toe with a teenager in a chugging contest, to Austin’s parents engaging in unusual sexual activities. The dialogue is suited for the subject matter. It’s the actors that make it work really well, and there are some funny performances. Kathryn and Gideon do a good job, but it is Geraldine who steals the spotlight. Meanwhile, their dates have a few funny moments as well, especially Miles Robbins as the chef.
The adults are well cast. Leslie Mann is the mother who’s made her share of mistakes and only wants to stop her own daughter from repeating them. Ike Barinholtz is the absent father who wants to be a part of his daughter’s life, but whose past efforts were weak. And John Cena, who seems to have found a perfect place starring in comedies, is the nerdy dad who worries his daughter is incapable of making the right decision. The juxtaposition of his massive physical build with his nerdy and naive behaviours lead to a number of hilarious scenes. Finally, Gary Cole and Gina Gershon, as Austin’s extremely liberal parents, have their moments as well.
As I watched, the movie felt like a stand-up act. Anecdotes, stories, and jokes, strung along together, some funny and some less so. But not all of them were original. During some of the scenes, I was reminded of Stand by Me, Step Brothers and of course, American Pie among others. The pact, the perfect setting, the early, ahem, eruption, the busted party, the mistaken identities, it’s been done before. That isn’t to say it wasn’t funny. It’s quite the opposite. The gags work, the jokes deliver, and I laughed.
In the end, the movie doesn’t minimize the girl’s experience and does try to show various ways teens might deal with it. There’s also a message about parents and being able to trust their kids if they’ve prepared them well. However, given everything that has happened before, it feels a little misplaced. There was no surprise at the end. Not in how the girls deal with their pact (just like in American Pie), nor in how the parents and girls relate and reconcile at the end. From that point of view, it felt contrived.
Blockers Blu-ray Special Features:
- Audio commentary by director Kay Cannon
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel – The entire cast contributes to these on-set flubs.
- Line-O-Rama – The laughs continue after the take!
- Rescue Mission – Being a parent isn’t easy, as Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, and John Cena make abundantly clear. Hear them and director Kay Cannon discuss parental mistakes and lessons learned. They even top it off with a good old-fashioned car explosion!
- Prom Night – Filmmakers and cast discuss how they achieved the perfect prom look and also share some of their own personal prom stories.
- The History of Sex with Ike Barinholtz – Ike Barinholtz explains the origins of human sexuality and its evolution through time.
- John Cena’s Prom Survival Kit for Parents – John Cena shows off a survival kit filled with items that will help parents survive the most stressful time of year – prom season!
- Chug! Chug! Chug! – The film introduced the world to the concept of “butt chugging.” Hear cast, crew, and butt-chugger John Cena discuss how they handled this standout scene.
- Puke-a-Palooza – One memorable scene involves copious amounts of projectile vomit. See what cast, filmmakers, and crew went through to make sure the puke was as authentic as possible.
- Optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles for the main feature
Blockers is an absurd comedy. Throw away rationality, morality, and law-abiding behavior, and it works. Though you’ll experience feelings of déjà vu, it’s still funny, and even laugh out loud at times. Not every comedy needs to be complex and require intellectual humor. It’s actually nice to have some that aim for base laughs. And in that perspective, Blockers delivers perfectly. After a long day or week, this is the perfect prescription to relax, enjoy and laugh.