By Evan Lambert
At first glance, Blockers seems like just another gross-out sex comedy. It has a gross title (Blockers is short for Cockblockers), a gross teaser poster (literally just a picture of a cock), and John Cena “butt-chugging.” However, if you look again, you’ll also notice that it has an obvious female sensibility, a moving queer subplot, and Leslie Mann looking snatched for the gods. American Pie, this is not.
Despite being primarily about teens trying to lose their virginity, two major ingredients prevent Blockers from being just another teen sex comedy. First, it’s not just about teens. Blockers (mostly) successfully weaves a tale of sex-seeking teens with a saga about parents trying to, well, block teens from those goals. Second, the film is throughly a product of 2018. Directed by Kay Cannon, a former 30 Rock writer, the film avoids the limited, sexist banter of its forefathers. Gone are the “faggots” of Superbad, the one-sided objectification of Pie: This film’s gleeful sex talk is reserved for the girls.
That’s not to say that Blockers doesn’t often ride on the charisma of its adults. As part of the concerned trio of parents stalking and blocking the aforementioned teens, Leslie Mann and John Cena conjure a wild chemistry all of their own while still staying true to their usual film personas. Cena once again skewers his tough guy persona, while Mann’s sharp, dazzling charm slices through the screen. MADtv’s Ike Barinholtz, ever the capable character actor, brings a welcome loopiness to the proceedings and prevents the parental scenes from sinking into straight man/funny man territory. His argument with Cena about which of them is the better straight ally is only funny because of Barinholtz’s delivery.
However, the film’s equal attention to its parents and teens also dilutes it towards the end. By trying to assign a plot and character arc to each of the film’s teen and adult protagonists — a total of six — while still juggling a capable supporting cast, Blockers eventually arrives at a muddled conclusion, though not without a few genuinely affecting moments interspersed throughout the hilarity.
Flagrantly Rated: **** (4 out of 5 stars)