Whether you’re cringing at John Cena stuffing his daughter’s thong into his mouth or laughing at him throwing her date into a wall, there is not a moment in “Blockers” when you won’t have a smile on your face. “Blockers” takes a relatable issue — a parent’s sadness over their child growing up and going to college — and adds the awkwardness of first-time sexual experiences to the mix.
“Blockers” follows a group of high school seniors — Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) — who make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. When their parents, Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), accidently uncover their plans, they desperately try to stop their children. As Lisa, Mitchell and Hunter attempt to decode teenage lingo, they chase their children from pregame to prom to after-party and finally to a hotel.
Mann and Cena are both staples in the comedy genre, and rightfully so, as they have mastered the archetype of the innocent and comically overstressed character. Mann effectively portrays timid yet overprotective mother. She drives the parents in a fast-paced car chase, following their teens from the after party to the hotel. On the way, she brutally flips and explodes her car a-la “Fast and Furious.”
Cena also captures the hilariously naive father. The juxtaposition between his intimidatingly muscular build and loving, paternal character is especially endearing. As the parents try to crash the after-party, Mitchell must beat the host in a butt chugging competition. Barinholtz, however, is somewhat new to the big screen. Introduced to popular culture in Fox’s “The Mindy Project” as clumsy and dopey nurse Morgan Tooker, the actor gradually establishes himself in comedy. In the show, Barinholtz is perfectly typecast as the goofy, slightly stupid and clumsy side character, and often provides comic relief. At prom, his character Hunter gets a swift kick in the face as he walks by a break dancing teen. “Blockers” is the first big film to feature Barinholtz as a protagonist, and I predict seeing a lot more of him in feature comedies.
The teens themselves, Julie, Kayla and Sam, are less effective in portraying believable characters. Although they have a few one-liners, their characters are somewhat flat and unoriginal. The audience does not have much insight into the dynamics of their characters. In this sense, they fit the archetype of a teenager, and do not stray far from it, making them less sympathetic characters. Rather, they are merely objects for the parents to chase after. However, the flatness of their characters could be interpreted as an intentional technique to draw attention away from their persons and instead focus on the comedy itself.
“Blockers” was surprisingly original in both plot and comedy. When I first saw the trailer, I thought it showed promise for a few good jokes, but I did not expect it to be the quality film it turned out to be. The cliched plotpoint of teens having sex on prom night, told from the perspective of the alarmed parents, was truly hilarious. However, there were a few aspects of the plot that felt a bit cheesy, like the gushing, warm reconciliations between the parents and their kids at the end of the film. I know I would not forgive my parents so quickly for interupting my prom night and throwing my date against a wall.
“Blockers” is a must-see for comedy lovers. I was constantly laughing, smiling or gasping at the parents’ outrageousness. This film is especially relateable for teenagers, who know first-hand how out of touch parents are with youth culture and how ridiculously overprotective and embarrassing they can be. Virginity pacts have never been this funny.