SXSW 2018: “Blockers” Review: It Goes a Little Too Far
Blockers tells the story of three senior girls, Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) and their decision to have a sex pact on the evening of their senior prom. The girls have been friends their entire lives and therefore their parents know and are somewhat friendly with each other. Lisa (Leslie Mann) is Julie’s mother who is a single mom and not quite ready to let go of her baby girl. John Cena plays Mitchell, the uber-manly guy with a sensitive side and raises Kayla to be super competitive and athletic. Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) is the outcast of the group since he cheated on his wife. Despite no invitation, Hunter crashes the party that Lisa has for the parents of the kids going to prom. He is making one last attempt to be part of Sam’s life. Once the girls have left for prom, Lisa sees some messages on Julie’s computer that the parents have difficulty understanding with all the emojis. They finally figure out that the girls have a sex pact to lose their virginities and Lisa and Mitchell are determined to stop them. Hunter, not wanting to ruin his last chance for Sam to have a good time, tags along, trying to prevent them from destroying the girls’ prom. The entire night is spent chasing the girls and getting into one ridiculous situation after another.
This type of film is not my cup of tea but I know I’m in the minority on that but I can admire the intentions behind the film and giving a female spin to the story. I would argue that the film would have a greater impact if the film featured more of the young girls’ and their perspective instead of the parents. Having a female director is a great start, but the whole film is written by men, and it shows. Not that men can’t write a coming of age story for females, but that it is a different perspective and feeling entirely. This film relies too heavily on gross-out juvenile humor and thus never gets to the real emotion and heart of the story, the relationship between these three girls.
The performances were decent and as you’d expect, the strongest performances came from Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz. John Cena is fair and makes great strides in his acting but had a long way to go to shake the previous persona he created. You still very much just see John Cena being John Cena in the film. He never disappears into a character or becomes something else other than the butt of a masculinity or homophobic joke. The girls do great work and as I said before, could have used more screentime than what they were given. The teenage boys in the film were stereotypes; the dorky theater kid, the pothead, and the popular kid. They didn’t serve any purpose in the film apart from being the sexual targets of the girls.
While I’ve said this humor does not appeal to me, there were still some parts that I found funny. I think when the film goes into the “too much” category for me is a scene that features “butt chugging.” Up until that point and after, there are quite a few funny moments. The beginning of the film had a lot more heart and emotion in it and I think the laughs were more genuine and towards the end, I think it became a challenge of “one upping” what we had already seen in the film.
Blockers had the potential to make a dent in the female coming of age genre but fails to distinguish itself from the rest of the crowd. Having a female director is a great start, but the story and humor need to be more genuine and come from people who those characters represent instead of trying to appeal to a wider audience. Blockers is just another one of those comedies that will blend into the rest.