Teenage hedonism is served with a twist in this funny and emotionally impactful comedy
The screenwriter of the Pitch Perfect trilogy, Kay Cannon, delivers a directorial debut that joins a recent crop of female-fronted teen films about sex, partying and friendship such as The To Do List, The Edge of Seventeen and Bad Neighbours 2. Although it's as gross-out as American Pie, with slapstick stupidity a huge factor, Blockers rigorously explores the parent-teen dynamic, switching the growing-up lessons to the adults as they learn to let go of their daughters.
The set-up is simple. The three teenage girls at the centre of the film, Julie (Kathryn Newton), Sam (Gideon Adlon) and Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. When their parents, single mum Lisa (Leslie Mann), overprotective Mitchell (John Cena) and absent divorcee Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), find out a mad scramble ensues, with the trio embarking on a voyage through modern teen life to stop their daughters from having sex.
It sounds horrible on paper, but the film deals with the sexual awakening of these young women by allowing their characters to act with both excitement and apprehension at getting laid, while the adults engage in discussions which force them to confront their wrong-headed attitudes towards their offspring's sex lives.
Mann is on fire as she sneaks across a hotel room like an inept spy dodging bullets and Cena imbues his muscular, hot-yoga-going dad with an endearing sweetness. Viswanathan nails the party spirit of an experimental teen as she gobbles up edibles and inhales vape highs – she has a natural comedic swagger to her delivery. In fact, all the young actors turn in game performances but, with the focus shifting between parents and teens, the friendship between the girls isn't as strongly realised as the rest of the film. Still, it's very funny watching the adults deciphering obscene emoji messages and Blockers scores on the emotional front, too, with a surprisingly moving conclusion.
General release from Fri 30 Mar.