Director: Kay Cannon
Screenwriters: Brian Kehoe, Eben Russell, Hayden Schlossberg, Jim Kehoe & Jon Hurwitz
Runtime: 102 mins.
Australian release date: 29 March 2018
Previewed at: Universal Pictures Theatrette, Sydney, on 19 March 2018.
Kay Cannon’s Blockers will either have you doubled up with laughter or cringing in the dark. It is, on one hand, full of gross-out humour that pushes the boundaries or, on the other, simply gross. If, however, you’re prepared to sit back and enjoy a fun night out with a bunch of friends having downed a few pre-screening bevies, then Blockers might just entertain you. Regrettably, there were no drinks on hand at the press preview. There should have been.
On the eve of Prom, three young gal-pals make a sex pact, planning to lose their virginity on the big night, and thus create a bond that will link them forever. Julie (Kathryn Newton) has a regular boyfriend, Austin (Graham Phillips), and is determined to make it a night to remember; Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), has her eye on cute fellow student Connor, aka ‘The Chef’ (Miles Robbins), who ‘will do’; and Sam (Gideon Aldon) prepares to ‘do it’ with plump, nerdy Chad (Jimmy Bellinger) but she has a secret - spoiler alert! - she’s a closet lesbian. Then there are the parents: Lisa (Leslie Mann), clingy single ‘mom’ to Julie, who’s not dealing well with the prospect of her daughter leaving for college; Mitchell (John Cena), Kayla’s dad, who’s well-built, dim-witted and overly emotional; and last but not least, Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), the estranged father of Sam, who turns out to be the most tuned in of them all and knows his daughter well even though they’ve spent little time together in recent years. When Julie leaves her lap-top open the parents stumble on the girls’ scheme and, naturally, set out for the Prom to block their plans… with the inevitable chaotic consequences. As the night progresses there are car chases, car crashes, break-ins, embarrassing moments as the oldies turn up at various teen gigs and, most cringe-worthy of all, a scene where one of the dads has beer pumped up his ass to show he’s one of the boys. All of which leads to the inevitable question, who are the real adults in Blockers?
There seems to be a rule in comedy movies (unlike in comedy series made for TV) that the more writers there are, the worse the script will be, and it’s certainly true here. There seem to be a few different films competing against each other in this screenplay: one is quite sensitive and has some strong, heartfelt scenes involving parenthood and coping with children leaving the nest; then there’s the gross-out one with lots of bodily-function jokes and coarse language; and yet another about parenting double standards, feminist issues and allowing girls to have the same freedom as boys. Not all of them work well together but all of them have their moments, though they may be few and far between.
Kay Cannon is directing for the first time in Blockers. She co-wrote the successful Pitch Perfect movies and they achieved what they set out to do with a measure of wit so it’s a shame she didn’t have a hand in this script. Don’t say you weren’t warned, although the demographic at which this film is aimed may embrace it wholeheartedly. At the preview screening there were some viewers in stitches (not very many though), but many more only laughed occasionally while still others groaned almost as often. Still, it’s been said before that if you find the correct level of mediocrity, you can make a fortune. This one, however, hasn’t made even that grade.