is a movie that is easy to admire, but hard to laugh at. For what is supposed to be a broad comedy, this can be deadly. There are some very likable actors here who are all giving good performances, and there are even some good ideas throughout the script. But the movie is never as funny as it needs to be, and there is a lot of stuff here that simply does not work. It's the kind of film that might amuse if you come across it on TV, but it also won't hold your attention for long.
It's also the latest in a genre I like to call "feel good smut". These are movies that try to be raunchy and push the boundaries for most of their running time, but then go all soft and sentimental, with the final half hour focused on moments where the characters have tears in their eyes as they explore their feelings. Blockers
wants to make us feel good about ourselves, while still leaving room for gags about projectile vomiting. It's a hard balance to pull off, and when it's done wrong such as here, it can give the viewer the experience of whiplash. For a movie to successfully go from heartfelt sentiment one scene, to having the next focused on one of the main characters chugging beer with his rear end, we have to really be behind these characters, and that's something that never happens here. While the cast is good, the characters they're playing simply are not written strong enough for us to buy the sudden and drastic change in tone, and it feels like the desperate calculations of a screenplay rather than genuine character growth.
In the opening scene, parents Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) stand outside an elementary school, and watch their three daughters become instant best friends as they head off for their fist day. The parents, in turn, become friends as well and prepare to face the future together. Flash forward to the present, where the three daughters are Seniors in high school and still the best of friends, while their parents are not exactly on good speaking terms. Lisa and Mitchell are still friendly with each other, but seldom talk outside of Facebook posts. As for Hunter, he cheated on his wife at some point, and is basically looked down on upon by Lisa and Mitchell, as well as by his own daughter.
As for the three daughters, it's Prom Night, and they are anticipating having sex for the first time with their individual dates. Lisa's daughter, Julie (Kathryn Newton), is dearly in love with her Prom date, Austin (Graham Phillips), and wants this to be her first time. She's even hoping to follow Austin when he goes to UCLA in the fall, even though her overprotective mother wants her to go to the University of Chicago, which is closer to home. Julie has been accepted to UCLA, and doesn't know how to tell her mom. Her two best friends, the adventurous Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and the much more meek Sam (Gideon Adlon), also are planning to have sex with their dates, though it seems more experimental for them than out of genuine love. Sam, in particular, is secretly more interested in a relationship with another girl at school. The three girls share their excitement over losing their virginity in an on-line chat using mostly emoji symbols, and when their parents stumble upon the conversation by discovering Julie's open laptop, Lisa, Mitchell and Hunter decide to head out and track down their daughters before they "make a mistake".
To its credit, Blockers
is fairly smart for a teen sex comedy. The girls are not written as sex-starved airheads. They are smart, and they actually talk honestly about what they're going into. But while the movie may be smart about certain things, it is never as funny as it should be. You have Mann, Cena and Barinholtz getting trapped in various awkward sexual situations, flipping over cars during high speed chases, and pretty much racing their way through every scene the movie throws at them. But the things they talk about with each other just isn't that strong. The one-liners don't hit like they should, despite the energy and chemistry of the actors. The script has the stench of a project that was probably rewritten multiple times, trying to please everyone in the audience. It ultimately becomes a generic and forgettable experience that is likable from time to time, but just never takes off like it should.
There are good moments here that hint at the funnier and more genuine movie that it could have been, but this is let down by a tone that gets increasingly sillier and off the wall with each passing scene. By the time John Cena is breaking into numerous hotel rooms looking for his daughter, and picking up and throwing her Prom date into a wall (all somehow without attracting the attention of hotel security, mind you), the movie feels like it has left reality behind. That's what makes the sentimental scenes feel so forced. Either you go zany and over the top, or you go honest. The filmmakers never seem to pick a side. I also think the characters suffer a lot from this uneven tone. We're never sure how to feel about them. Sometimes they seem to make sense, and sometimes they're live action cartoon characters.
just never settles on a tone or what exactly it wants to be, and I think that's what holds it back from being the movie it wants to be. It's never exactly terrible, but it is disappointing. You want to see these actors work together again with a better script. I'm hoping this happens sooner rather than later.