Movie Review: “Blockers”
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 decided to make a pact that they will all 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 realization that her daughter (Kathryn Newton) will soon be going off to college and leaving her all alone. Mitchell (John Cena) has always seen himself as his daughter’s hero and is struggling with the realization that his daughter (Geraldine Viswanathan) has grown up and is becoming a young woman. Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) is struggling with the fact that, after his divorce, he is not as close with his daughter (Gideon Adlon) as he once was and she can‘t even stand the sight of him. Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter have their own issues but they end up making a pact of their own (to block their daughters).
The Pros & 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 made it all about the parents. The teens were, of course, 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. This movie 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 anything noteworthy from the teens. Between the three of them, they have plenty of quick quips but none seem to land the desired effect. Their one-liners feel written and unnatural. 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 seem to get the audience reaction that the filmmakers intended.
Whether it was poorly written one-liners or poorly directed improvisation, I do not blame the young actresses for the issue. The issue would be that the writers were trying too hard or the director was not trying hard enough. I thought they had good chemistry together and they each seemed to have potential. While the focus of this movie needed to be 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. On one hand, I wanted the parents to succeed but, on the other hand, the teen characters were too neglected for me to care about the outcome. The teens were just too poorly developed and none of their jokes seemed to land.
Pro: Leslie Mann & John Cena (+6pts)
Lisa and Mitchell seem to be on the same page a lot (at least more than they are with other parents like Hunter). As a result, John Cena and Leslie Mann have a lot of screen time together. Their characters are the ones doing all of the planning and conspiring while Hunter is kind of just going along for the ride. As amusing as the premise is, it would only work if the actors playing Lisa and Mitchell are able to sell the characters to the audience.
In order for the audience to buy the premise, we need to believe that these parents have a desperate, nothing-to-lose mentality. As crazy as the it all is, these two characters are pretty emotionally unstable and the actors are able to effectively get that point across. John Cena and Leslie Mann are funny in these roles and they have pretty decent chemistry together. It is a crazy premise with a lot of crazy moments and it only works because these two actors were able to sell it in an entertaining and believable way.
Con: The Chef (-2pts)
Connor (Miles Robbins) has become known as “The Chef” to kids in school. He has earned this monicker because he is constantly cooking drugs into various foods while also consistently creating new drug variants. He is definitely not the kind of kid you would want your daughter going to prom with, but that is exactly the situation that Mitchell (John Cena) has found himself in. Connor was definitely supposed to be an annoying character, but I do not think it was the right kind of annoying.
It seems like the only time Connor speaks is when he is explaining his latest drug-related creation. The whole thing gets old pretty quickly. He probably has, at least, five new drug creations in this movie and it just feels very redundant. This is 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 had awkward line delivery. He was annoying, sure, but for all of the wrong reasons.
Pro: Ike Barinholtz (+5pts)
Ike Barinholtz is probably my favorite, underrated comedic actor. This guy is very funny. He has fantastic comedic timing and has a great screen presence. While he is certainly not this film’s focus, he has a lot of the funniest and most memorable moments. Hunter is a divorced father and his ex-wife was the one who got custody of their daughter. His daughter blames him for the divorce but he feels misunderstood. Nonetheless, him and his daughter are not very close. Prom is his opportunity to get back into his daughter’s life by giving her a night she will never forget.
Hunter is extremely desperate to get back into his daughter‘s life and he will really stop at nothing in order to do so. He is a very funny actor and ois playing a desperate parent who has nothing to lose. This makes for a character with a lot of comedic moments. Ike Barinholtz was entertaining to watch and ends up being the comedic relief in a movie filled with comedic characters.
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 is filled with moments that will have the audience chuckling and slightly entertained but there were not really any memorable or laugh out loud moments. Some may disagree, but (in my opinion) the comedy in this movie was average at best and delivered nothing special.
Grade: C+ (79pts)
Blockers has a fun premise. It takes a topic (prom) that we have seen in countless movies, but this one adds some unique flavor by focusing on the parents. John Cena and Leslie Mann play two parents who are struggling with the fact that their children growing up and going off to college, Ike Barinholtz is desperate to get back into his daughter’s life, and all three want to stop their daughters from fulfilling their sex pact on prom night. They are all desperate for their own reasons and the actors do a good job of getting that desperation across in a believable way.
The desperation is important for this movie because the audience needs to believe that these characters are willing to do anything to block their daughters. These three actors are pretty entertaining to watch, and they all have their comedic moments, but the movie’s comedy never seems to hit its mark. The comedy is either delivered poorly, only worth a chuckle, or something we saw in the trailers. This, mixed with the poorly developed teens, ends up making this a pretty typical comedy movie. It is amusing and will keep you engaged, but it does not deliver any memorable or noteworthy moments. I would sum this movie up by saying that it is amusing while you are watching it, but forgettable once it has finished.