Friday, 3 August 2018

Blockers ★★☆☆☆

As long as the human race continues, there will always be teenagers. And as long as there are teenagers, there are relatable stories of angst, awkwardness and sexual stupidity. And as long as there are relatable stories of angst, awkwardness and sexual stupidity, Hollywood is going to see dollar signs and continue making gross-out teen comedies. This is a subgenre that will live forever, and because it’s been around so bloody long, there are very few new ideas to bring to the table. But this year, a film came along with a rather fresh idea. Is it enough to stand it out from this packed set of films, or is it going to fade into the pack?

Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect writer) makes her directorial debut with Blockers, a teen comedy that puts the focus on the parents. Julie, Kayla and Sam are three high school seniors who make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John “Joooohn Ceeeeenaaaaaaaaa” Cena) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) are three overprotective parents who lose their proverbial shit when they find out about their daughters' plans. Together, these parents embark on a wild and chaotic quest to stop the girls from sealing the deal - no matter what the cost. So, while our young characters are having awkward adventures full of booze, partying and regret, we see all of this unfold from the perspective of the parents. 

While the film shares the focus between the daughters and the parents, the film is named for the parents and the focus loyalty certainly lies with them. The film does explore the lives of the young girls – but the majority of the film is built around the parents – or ‘blockers’ – in pursuit of preventing their precious daughters from making their own decisions. From this premise comes a surprisingly deep study of different aspects of growing up. We explore the young girls growing up – maturing, learning about big decisions, etc. – but also the concept of the parents growing up and accepting that their daughters aren’t little girls anymore. However, this side of the film is criminally underexplored, with every single attempt at this overshadowed by painfully forced sex humour.

But at the end of the day, Blockers doesn’t do anything beyond its fresh and original premise to stand out in an increasingly overcrowded subgenre of comedy. Blockers is, unfortunately, largely comprised of recycled jokes and old ideas. It’s a paint-by-numbers, cookie-cutter comedy lacking the grounded and warm delivery that elevated teen comedies like Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles to classic status and instead favouring an aggressive onslaught of crude, over the top jokes that you could find in any episode of The Inbetweeners or an American Pie flick. It’s a shame because this film’s premise could’ve really made it something truly special and unique, while still leaving enough screen-time for some sex jokes and vomiting scenes. Blockers, alas, is 100% the vulgarity and vomit, and very little else.

Hell, maybe I’m not the target audience. I’m not a teenage girl so I can’t relate to the youngsters, and I’m not a parent so can’t relate to the eponymous blockers. Relatability doesn’t make a film, granted – but it helps. I’ve got nothing to link me to these characters or stories. The stakes were too low for me to have any concern or interest in the characters or the plot, and the film struggled to hold my interest through it 105 minutes. When I heard the premise, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, Blockers doesn’t do enough with it.

Sam Love

Blockers at CeX

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