2 (out of 4)
Even with the writer behind the Pitch Perfect trilogy at the helm, little of Kay Cannon's feminine voice makes it through Blockers' uninspired screenwriting by the inexperienced Kehoe brothers.
Formerly titled The Pact, a story about three high school senior girls coordinating the loss of their virginity on prom night is overshadowed by the angle of suspicious and overprotective parents attempting to cockblock their decisions. This latest Goldberg/Rogen produced fare – which uncharacteristically doesn't star the lovable stoner and face of the pair – got a pass from critics for its supposed maturity, but Blockers falters in its sex comedy aims and in resonating emotionally or thematically.
All of the film's star power belongs to John Cena and Leslie Mann, while Ike Barinholtz single-handedly holds the film together as the odd duckling of the three parents. Playing an estranged father trying to reconnect with his shy, secretly lesbian daughter (Gideon Adlon), Barinholtz has solid timing and respectable dramatic range, making him the only stand out against his one-trick pony co-stars. Cena's hulk with a soft heart routine and Leslie Mann's typically shrill, blissfully unaware maternal role she's done so many times before amount to minimal laughs and ideological confusion for the sake of "comedy." Barinholtz' character is the voice of reason in the story and his elevation of the material is constantly undone by Mann and Cena's one-note performances and one-dimensional characters.
The biggest lack in Blockers is the amount of attention paid to the sexually curious trio of teens at the film's center. There may be candor in the way the movie depicts each young lady's carnal goals, from the desire to get trashed in order to get it over with in the case of the crass athlete (Geraldine Viswanathan) to the naïve blond ringleader (Kathryn Newton) just trying to make it the perfect evening with her long-time boyfriend. Adlon's blooming lesbian is stuck with a fat fedora-toting loser but she actually longs for a quirky Asian girl – this subplot is pathetically simplified for being the most SJW factor of the film. Nevertheless, the teenage side of things is obviously the most fascinating facet of Blockers.
With no tact in drawing satire or insight from the film's generational gap, the parent's overblown attempts to curtail their kid's prom night makes for easy marketing and a repetitive film. The gags get stale quick but the humor resists the low brow and becomes more digestible as the film wears on – but the third act's emotional beats are also so predictable you can feel them forming before they actually occur. The general entertainment value and a grade school lesson on feminism raise Blockers to the ranks of watchable even though the whole project is so hit-and-miss that I cringed as often as I laughed.
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