If Blockers is wrong, I’m not entirely sure I want to be right. The super-raunchy comedy directed by first-timer Kay Cannon (who wrote the Pitch Perfect trilogy) is as off-color as Superbad, American Pie, or any other film of that ilk, with enough penis jokes, vomit, and reckless behavior to satisfy even the most juvenile mind. But it also has a surprisingly chewy center, providing some genuinely sweet moments and an overall positive and female-empowering message, as it passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors.
Stripped down to its basest level, Blockers has all the trappings of every other lewd and lascivious teen comedy. The kids are up to something mischievous, and the adults are trying to stop them. In this case it’s a sex pact set in motion by besties Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon), who decide prom night is the perfect night for them to lose their collective virginity. When their parents catch wind of the plan (damn those tethered devices!), they set off to stop it but instead wind up neck-deep in a night of embarrassing shenanigans and hijinks so over-the-top that they would make Stifler squirm.
John Cena stars as Kayla’s uber-sensitive dad Mitchell, who can’t come to terms with the fact that his little baby is all grown up, much less headed to prom with the man-bunned Connor (Miles Robbins), who, as it turns out, is the school’s resident drug cooker. Meanwhile Julie’s single mom Lisa (Leslie Mann) is having trouble coping with the fact that her little girl is headed off to college in the fall, while Sam’s man-child dad Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) serves as the resident voice of insanity.
Before the night is over, beer will be chugged via an orifice that should never have beer near it, a vomit scene rivaling Stand By Me’s infamous pie eating contest will unfold, and blindman’s buff will take on a whole new meaning in a sex game that will have you both wincing and laughing riotously at the same time. But then, after an hour-plus of hard-R comedy, Blockers zigs when you think it will zag and instead shifts to become a pleasant and generally responsible movie about family and maturity and trust.
It’s not a whiplash-inducing, brakes-squealing shift, mind you—the comedy continues right up to (and including) the closing credits. Instead, it just sneaks up on you, and before you know it the kids and the parents have all learned their lessons, and the movie, which would have been perfectly fine as just another teen comedy, becomes a memorable and worthwhile instant classic.
The screenplay by brothers Brian and Jim Kehoe is smart and classy (despite itself) and gives plenty of opportunity to showcase the comedic chops of vets Mann and Barinholtz. The surprise here is Cena, who seems to be well on his way to following his former Wrestlemania foe Dwayne Johnson on the road from WWE to successful actor. Though certainly not as polished as his co-stars, he more than holds his own throughout the ribald festivities.
It’s Cannon, though, who does the most to embolden her status. We already know she can write, but shifting into the director’s chair isn’t always a smooth transition, particularly when you’re not working from your own material. She does a pitch-perfect (ba-dum-dum!) job here, however, crafting a solid movie that has across-the-board appeal.
Blockers is definitely wild and crazy and there are more than a few scenes that will make you flinch, even as you question how you’re laughing at them. But it willmake you laugh. And that’s alright.