Yes, there’s a rooster on the top of the title on the poster, but apparently the cock is silent. The title though does kind of give you the right idea. This film stars John Cena, Leslie Mann, and Ike Barinholtz as the parents of three teen girls who are best friends. On the night of their prom, they discover that the three girls have made a pact to lose their virginity that night, and they set out to stop their girls. But their plans go hilariously awry.
It’s a pretty simple concept, with the adults invading their children’s world, trawling through the prom, trying to figure out where secret house parties are, but always just missing them, or winding up negotiating situations in a world they’re no longer familiar with. All with R rated comedy results. And on the whole, it really works.
Although it’s mostly the adult’s movie, as they face their own fears about their kids growing up, their parenting mistakes and their attitudes to their daughters entering the adult world, the three girls often steal the show. They feel genuine and real, not just the McGuffin to their parents plotline. They have their own narrative arcs (including a nicely explored subplot about coming out as gay) and they have some really sparkling dialogue too. Their friendship is part of the beating heart of the film.
And what’s surprising about this film is that it actually has a lot of heart, for an R rated comedy. There are some moments in this film that will almost have you tearing up a bit, as everyone, child and parent, grows up a little and chooses how they want to take on their next phase of life, and friendships are cemented. It’s a really lovely touch to what could have potentially been a forgettable comedy.
The comedy itself is largely situational and plays out in set pieces, much as you’d expect. And you can perhaps judge the book by the cover (or the film by the poster in this case) as to what kind of comedy it is. If you think this humour is for you, you’ll probably find it is, but if college humour puts you off, maybe you won’t like this. I have to admit, it made me cringe sometimes and the film lost me a little in the middle, but on the whole, I was laughing out loud and generally had fun.
The film also does explore a little that the idea of blocking your daughter from having sex is pretty sexist. It ends up moralising that teaching your daughter to be confident and strong means she will make the right decisions about what she wants to do for herself, with a basis in self esteem. It was a neat way of exploring the generation gap, especially in regards to attitudes to sex, and it handles them quite sweetly, which was a nice touch, again, in a comedy of this type.
Which last of all brings us to the three lead roles, which may be the reason you’re drawn to this film in the first place. Since seeing John Cena making cameos in films like Daddy’s Home, we’re starting to see a side of him that loves to make fun of himself and his persona as a tough guy who initially made it big as a wrestler. He manages to show a great deal of warmth and sense of comic timing, which he really gets to display in this film in a lead role. He’s really entertaining, funny and warm here. He’s joined by Leslie Mann, as a vulnerable but determined single mother who values her relationship with her daughter as a point of pride, and who is afraid of losing the person she’s closest to, her daughter, when her child goes to college. She’s a desperate, frenetic woman, and one who hasn’t looked at her own past and reconciled herself to it, as she struggles to protect her daughter. She’s both sweet and a little scary, but always very funny and relatable. And finally, they’re joined by Ike Barinholtz, a bit of a Mark Wahlberg look alike, who is a Dad who wants to make up for his many mistakes as a father, who has been absent and alcoholic, and yet somehow is perhaps the parent who knows his daughter best out of the three. He’s blunt and funny, and seems to have a miasma of sadness around him in this film, which was a nice touch. He’s a good foil to the other two, who try so hard to be perfect.
On the whole, the film is probably a lot funnier and a lot sweeter than you might expect. It’s a comedy with really sound performances, startlingly so in the younger actors, and it has some excellent one liners as well as silly situations. It’s not a perfect film, some scenes in the middle were just off-putting without being clever, but if you like this kind of humour, don’t over look this film. You’ll get a laugh out of it.
Blockers is out 30th March!