The sex comedy is a genre that has seen better days. And the romantic comedy is currently nearly a dead genre. Both need to evolve in order to keep up with the mores of the time. And Blockers may be the answer. This highly evolved “teen sex comedy” addresses double standards, female sexuality, parental insecurities about teen sexuality, and the pressures that come with expressing that sexuality. Oh, and prom.
“…outrageously funny humor, a surprisingly emotional story at its core and a progressive message…”
Now, full disclosure, I’m a dude. An older dude and a white dude, possibly the worst kind of dude to be writing about a sex comedy of this type. But I’ve seen my share of sex comedies in my day, or as some refer to them… the classics. Porky’s, Risky Business, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Bachelor Party, Roadtrip, American Pie, Superbad, you know them by their names and reputation, but it’s a genre that I always had difficulty relating to. As a teen, I actually cared more about finding a woman I could connect with on a mental level before we could connect in other ways. (I just wanted a steady girlfriend.) So, male-centric sex comedies about “gettin’ laid” that are hailed by so many are just… not for me. They only stand as a reminder of the “jockochracy” or “bro-centric” culture I attempted to flee when I moved from the midwest to Los Angeles. It’s a good thing Hollywood is so evolved that… um, oh yeah. A conversation for another time.
So, not being a huge fan of the genre, I was curious how Blockers would approach the subject matter, a group of teen girls looking to lose their virginity on prom night while being pursued by a group of parents intent on ruining their best laid plans. So to speak. The result is outrageously funny, a surprisingly emotional story at its core and a progressive message for parents and teens to lighten up about sex.
Blockers is also kind of two movies in one, parallel storylines following the teens’ prom night and the parents’ blocking attempts. The storyline involving prom-goers Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) – hellbent on losing their virginity with their chosen dates. And it’s the kind of comedic film we’ve seen before, but from a female perspective it is so refreshing. (And very much needed now.) They are as just as foul-mouthed as their male counterparts and in far more clever ways. It also deserves mentioning that the teenage boys on this same journey are not drooling idiots, bros or caricatures, these guys are respectful and evolved males – if sex is a part of the evening, fine, if not, that’s fine too. No pressure or dishonest tactics are employed by these guys. And considering Hollywood has a history of glorifying bad male behavior, seeing these guys win the day by being, well, just good guys, is something I can’t recall seeing in many teen comedies, even when those guys are the protagonists. Okay, maybe in Revenge of the Nerds, but not much else.
“It’s rare to see a mainstream movie that deals with teen female sexuality and male insecurities about female sexuality…”
Then the parents, and I know they have character names, but I prefer to call them by their professional Hollywood names, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena and Leslie Mann. This trio steals the show in the more ridiculous storyline. Their quest to block their daughters’ sex pact leads them to do terribly stupid things resulting in ridiculous situations that I won’t ruin for you. Okay, maybe the best naked version of the game “Marco Polo” I’ve ever seen with a cameo by Gary Cole and Gina Gershon. And Ike Barinholtz is especially great in a role layered with comedic nuance. (Listen to Ike on the Howard Stern show for more Barinholtz goodness.)
While Blockers features some of the best raunchy humor in recent memory, it’s not overly gross or filled with unnecessary nudity. Yes, all of the nudity here is necessary and part of the story. John Cena’s side-ass in the soon-to-be classic “butt-chugging” scene will likely win some kind of award. Bet on it.
Fortunately for all involved, Blockers’ director is, gasp, a woman! Kay Cannon’s contribution to the matters at hand can be felt all over the story, the characters, the real moments and the little details that result in the best kind of sex comedy, one with a heart. All the performances walk that fine line between being honest, real and true to the situation… then spiraling into complete, over the top, nonsense. Leslie Mann is great as always and it’s nice to see her in a lead role where she can shine. John Cena should get the comedy of the year award. That guy just goes for it in every situation! He acts the shit out of this movie! And Ike Barinholtz delivers a scene near the end – a father/daughter moment that will have some in tears. (Me.)
The best kind of comedy deals with social issues head on. It’s rare to see a mainstream movie that deals with teen female sexuality and male insecurities about female sexuality and the freedom that comes with expressing that sexuality In Blockers, we’re seeing it expressed in a brutally honest way that is a totally original take on a genre badly in need of being reinvented. Bravo!
“The best kind of comedy deals with social issues head on…”
Blockers is a sex positive, sex comedy that plays for both teens and adults and I’m not even sure there’s been a film like it, well, ever. In fact, this could be the first time a film of this type could be viewed by parents and adults. Which would certainly make for a great, post-movie conversation. Blockers is the funniest film of the year, so see it with a packed audience to get the full effect.
Blockers (2018) Directed by Kay Cannon. Writers Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe. Starring Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Ramona Young, Gideon Adlon, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gina Gershon, June Diane Raphael, Gary Cole, Miles Robbins, Graham Phillips, Hannibal Buress, Sarayu Blue, Colton Dunn.
9 out of 10