Blockers: An Inverted American Pie From The Parental Perspective
Review by Aaron Haughton
Kay Cannon, the co-writer of the Pitch Perfect films, makes her directorial debut with the bawdy comedy Blockers, a surprisingly refreshing inversion of teen sex comedy staple American Pie as seen from the parents perspective, which just may be the best comedy of its kind since 2007's Superbad. The modernized take to what has become a fairly saturated premise is a breath of fresh air, which is strengthened by the film's many heartfelt and tender moments and big laughs. One things for sure, don't let the trailers scare you away from this one; there's more than meets the eye to this mostly sweet, unexpectedly hilarious prom night comedy. Best of all, the good jokes are aren't ruined in the trailer!
Underneath the raunchy premise in Blockers, there's a strong pulse radiating at the core that warms its way through entire film, perfectly echoed and reflected in the home footage that bookends the film. The film's savvy is that it trades in the typical lowball sleaze of the genre for a heaping dose of heart, which helps to reinforce its main theme of family. There are still plenty of vulgar moments, most of which feel a little shoehorned and cheap here, but the journey the film takes us on is never less than entertaining.
One of the film's more refreshing qualities is how our trio of overbearing parents, played by Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz, grow over time. Out of all the characters in the film, including the parents, our three protagonists are the only ones who hold such a stringent view of sex. The film doesn't impose any judgements on the three young women choosing to have sex on prom night, just the three main parents, and over the course of their journey to prevent their daughters from losing their virginity, they come to reevaluate their own outlook on sex and sexuality, ultimately arriving on a more accepting, pseudo-European point of view. At the core of it all, however, it's about parents relinquishing their grip and learning to let the kids go, which is rendered pretty beautifully here and leads to a smattering of touching moments, which I was not expecting.
Flipping the American Pie sex pact from the male to female perspective is another smart and revitalizing aspect to the film's approach. This forces the parents to not only confront their own views on sexuality, but also how we tend to place more negative stigma on females for having sex than men. Also, another breath of fresh air here is in the film's treatment of inclusion and diversity, which was handled effortlessly and wasn't overly fetishized or looked down upon or called out as much as it may've been in the hands of another filmmaker.
On the filmmaking side of things, you can tell that Cannon is still feeling out her style. She seems more concerned with getting the performances she needed, than she was about framing, angles and, ironically, blocking. However, more often than not, she does exactly what is needed for the scenes to really work, and delivers a fun and breezy romp of a comedy.
The performances here uniformly great, but a few outshined the rest. Out of the three high school girls, Geraldine Viswanatha proves that she's most suited to be a star, exuding personality and landing big laughs, going toe-to-toe with John Cena. Out of the parents, it's a much closer call, but I think Cena shines brightest, flexing his range by showing his sensitive side. However, Ike Barinholtz lands the most laughs and has the oddball weirdo character down to a T, and Leslie Mann really commits and gives herself to the roll, which is perfectly showcased in the hotel room scene. Hannibal Buress is always a pleasure, and he kills it as the supporting character Frank.
Rating: 3.5 butt chugs outta 5.
What did you think? Is Blockers the most refreshing teen sex comedy since Superbad? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!