There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
The prom can be an exciting and stressful time in a teen’s life. However, it becomes even more stressful for a group of parents when their daughters form a sex pact. The young girls have been friends since they were children and they have decided to make a pact to each lose their virginity on prom night. Little do they realize, one of the girls left their group chat open on their laptop and their parents now know their intentions.
Lisa (Leslie Mann) is struggling with the fact that her daughter (Kathryn Newton) will soon be going off to college, leaving her all alone. Mitchell (John Cena) has always seen himself as his daughter’s hero, and he is struggling with the fact that his daughter (Geraldine Viswanathan) has grown up and she is quickly becoming a young woman. Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) is struggling with the fact that he has not been as close with his daughter (Gideon Adlon) as he once was before the divorce, as well as the fact that his daughter can hardly stand the sight of him. Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter each have their own issues, but when they learn of their daughters' pact, they decide to form a pact of their own, a pact whose only goal is to block their daughters from fulfilling theirs.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Premise (+5pts)
The Kids (-6pts)
Leslie Mann & John Cena (+6pts)
The Chef (-2pts)
Ike Barinholtz (+5pts)
The Comedy (-4pts)
Pro: The Premise (+5pts)
Blockers definitely had an amusing premise. The filmmakers took a very played out topic, such as prom, but they made it all about the parents. The teens were obviously a big part of the movie, but the focus remained on the parents and their emotional journey. This made way for a lot of comedic moments that played with the parents and their desperation to hold onto their daughters’ innocence. The parents had a common goal, but they were still unique characters from one another. It was a pretty typical comedy, but its premise was definitely enough to keep audiences interested in the story.
Con: The Kids (-6pts)
While I understand that the intent was to focus on the parents, I would have liked to have seen literally anything noteworthy from the teens. Between the three of them, they had plenty of quick quips, but none of which seem to land the desired effect. Their one-liners felt written and unnatural, and thus felt forced. I obviously do not know which lines were written in the script and which ones were improvised, but a lot of the quips—particularly the ones given to Geraldine Viswanathan‘s Character—felt rehearsed, they felt forced, and they did not get the audience reaction that the filmmakers were clearly going for.
Whether it was poorly written one-liners or poorly directed improvisation, I do not blame the young actresses for the issue. The issue was either that that the writers were trying too hard or that the director was not trying hard enough. I thought the young actresses had decent chemistry with one another and I thought that they had potential. Unfortunately, while the focus of this movie needed to be on the parents, it seemed like the filmmakers gave the teens as little attention as necessary. As an audience member, I ended up having conflicting opinions. I wanted the parents to succeed, because they were the main characters, but the teen characters were also too underdeveloped for me to care about whether or not they did.
Pro: Leslie Mann & John Cena (+6pts)
Lisa and Mitchell seem to be on the same page a lot—at least moreso than they were with Hunter. As a result, John Cena and Leslie Mann had a lot of screen time together. Their characters were the ones doing all of the planning and conspiring while Hunter was kind of just going along for the ride. As amusing as the premise was, it could only work if the actors playing Lisa and Mitchell were able to sell the characters to the audience.
In order for the audience to buy the premise, we needed to believe that these parents had a desperate, nothing-to-lose mentality. As crazy as it all was, these two characters were pretty emotionally unstable, and the actors were able to effectively get that point across. John Cena and Leslie Mann were funny in these roles and I thought they worked well together. It was a crazy premise with a lot of crazy moments, and it only worked because these two actors were able to sell it in an entertaining and believable way.
Con: The Chef (-2pts)
Connor (Miles Robbins) had become known as “The Chef” to kids in school. He earned this moniker, because he was constantly cooking drugs into various foods, while also consistently creating his own drug variants. He was definitely not the kind of kid you would want your daughter going to prom with, but that was exactly the situation that Mitchell (John Cena) found himself in. Connor was definitely supposed to be an annoying character, but I do not think the filmmakers made him the right kind of annoying.
It seemed like the only time Connor spoke was when he was explaining his latest drug-related creation. The whole thing got old pretty quickly. He probably had at least five new drug creations in this movie and it just felt very redundant. This was a one-note character if there ever was one, and his sketchy line delivery made the character even more irritating. Do not get me wrong, many stories have necessary annoying characters that serve the story well, but this character was very poorly written and the actor gave had an awkward line delivery. He was annoying, sure, but for all of the wrong reasons.
Pro: Ike Barinholtz (+5pts)
I think Ike Barinholtz is underrated comedic actor. This guy is very funny. He has fantastic comedic timing, and he has a strong screen presence. While he is certainly not this story’s focus, he had a lot of the funnier and more memorable moments in the movie. Hunter was a divorced father and his ex-wife was the one who got custody of their daughter. His daughter blamed him for the divorce, but he felt misunderstood, and he and his daughter were not very close. Prom was his opportunity to get back into his daughter’s life by giving her a night she would never forget.
Hunter was extremely desperate to get back into his daughter‘s life and he was willing to stop at nothing in order to do so. Ike Barinholtz is a very funny actor and he was playing a desperate comedic relief who had nothing to lose. This was the recipe for a great comedic character. As a result, Ike Barinholtz was unsurprisingly entertaining to watch, and he ended up being the effective comedic relief in a movie filled with comedic performances.
Con: The Comedy (-4pts)
For the most part, the comedy in this movie was pretty stale. It was more of a chuckle-fest than anything else. There were plenty of attempted jokes that definitely did not hit the audience in the way that the filmmakers intended, and the “funniest” moments were almost entirely moments that were shown in the trailers. The rest of the comedic moments were either delivered poorly or only worth a chuckle. Do not get me wrong, this was an amusing movie. It was filled with moments that will have the audience chuckling and slightly entertained, but there were not any truly memorable, laugh out loud moments. Some may disagree, but in my opinion, the comedy in this movie was average at best and the filmmakers ultimately delivered nothing special.
Grade: C+ (79pts)
Blockers had a fun premise. The filmmakers took a topic—prom—that we have seen in countless movies before, but they added some unique flavor by focusing on the parents. John Cena and Leslie Mann played two parents who were struggling with the fact that their children were growing up and going off to college, Ike Barinholtz was desperate to get back into his daughter’s life, and all three wanted to stop their daughters from fulfilling their sex pact on prom night. They were all desperate for their own reasons, and the actors did a good job of getting that desperation across.
The desperation was important for this movie, because the audience needed to believe that these characters were willing to do anything to "block" their daughters. These three actors were pretty entertaining to watch, and they all had their comedic moments, but the movie’s comedy never seemed to truly hit its mark. The comedy was either delivered poorly, only worth a chuckle, or something we saw in the trailers. This, mixed with the poorly developed teens, ended up making this a pretty typical comedy. It was amusing and it will keep you watching, but it did not deliver any memorable or noteworthy moments. It was amusing enough while it was on, but it was forgettable almost as soon as was over.