Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Blockers

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  The poster of Blockers had a rooster on it before the word "blockers" and--oh, I just got it.



Blockers – 4 out of 5

I saw the trailer for Blockers when it was on its way to the theaters and there were moments that made me giggle but comedies, especially sex-based ones, can be quite the gamble.  While it’s true with any film, there’s always a risk that the best parts are shown in the trailer and, due to the nature of comedies and how the end result that is a desire to laugh, experiencing the disappointment that comes when you learn that all the funny parts were in the trailer can be quite the letdown.  However, I was told by several friends that the film was better than they anticipated and that’s something I love to hear.  And, as it turns out, they were right!  Blockers isn’t too shabby!

Yes, this scene is in the trailer and it was still funny when I saw it in the film proper.

Lifelong friends; Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon), have decided that their Senior Prom is the day they will all lose their virginity.  Their parents; the single mom to Julie, Lisa (Leslie Mann), the sports-centric father to Kayla, Mitchell (John Cena) and the divorced, absentee father of Sam, Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), find out about this plan and decide they need to protect the virginity of these girls at all cost and set out on a mission to stop them from going all the way.

"We'll tell our children about the day we all lost our virginity!!!"

For some reason, Katy Perry's "Firework" plays
in my head when I look at this screenshot.
Blockers has a razor thin line it is trying to walk.  On one side, it is actively subverting the traditional sex comedy roles by having the characters trying to lose their virginity be women.  Think of all the times you’ve seen films that involve a group of high school guys trying to lose their virginity—it’s been done and it’s been done a lot.  So, right off the bat, having this gender swap of this trope is appealing because, as much as we like to deny it in our society, women want sex too.  And that brings me to my next point; on the other side of this line, the film is playing off the outdated social idea that a women’s virginity must be protected at all times.  Think of all the sexually insecure fathers who tie their daughter’s virginity and sex life to their own fragile masculinity.  They wear shirts that brag they will murder any boy that tries to sleep with their daughter.  This idea crosses so many lines that it is just gross.  Why is a father so vigilant about his daughter’s sex life?  Well, because he’s essentially trying to protect her from himself.  Men who think like this often are or were really shitty dudes to women and now they are trying to protect their daughter’s perceived precious sex life from men that are no different than they were or are.  This latter element was the one thing I was very concerned about with Blockers.  I was worried the whole film was going to be a regressive commentary about how women are not entitled to their own sexual exploration and that parents must stop them from having sex—while in the male version of this film, the fathers are cheering their boys on in their quest to get laid.  

She must stop her kid from having sex because she doesn't want her to have
a kid.  Kids ruin lives.  It's true.  My mom sends me daily text messages
to remind me of that.  Sometimes this reminder gets hurtful.

Surprisingly, Blockers shows how truly progressive it is but acknowledging how primitive this line of thinking is as they have Hunter play the voice of reason against the backwards thinking of Lisa and Mitchell.  Hunter and other characters chide them on their activities and even points out the inherent double standard our society has.  Hunter’s character even is given extra treatment as he openly acknowledges that his daughter is confused about her sexuality and the only reason he is along for the ride is so that she is true to herself and isn’t conforming to archaic society standards.  Above everything else, this forward and progressive stance this film takes on the tired old sex comedy trope is very refreshing.

She can't see him.

There are times when the concept of this comedy starts to get stretched thin as the plot struggles to find reasons why the kids would remain one step ahead of the parents.  This is where Blockers is at its weakest.  There are definite moments that felt unnecessary and like the feature is actively trying to find situations to put the adults in that would result in unique comedic moments and make sure to get the kids to a new location for the parents to try and track down.  While this doesn’t happen often, these moments were noticeably different as the comedy is less about the situation of the parents denying their children their right to grow up and is more about momentary gags that have little to do with the overall premise—essentially throwaway gags.  Sometimes these parts are decent and workable but sometimes they feel out of place and different in tone from the rest of the feature.  These moments aren’t entertainment killers because the film still does bring in a lot of great humor but they definitely were mildly distracting.

I was hoping that they would have explored Sam's awakening to her sexual
orientation a little more but, for what it is worth, they explored it better
than other properties have in the past.
 

The cast to this one is fantastic.  The kids, while mostly just flat characteristics of teenage tropes—you have the smart one with the bright future, the athletic one with the bright future and then the quirky, nerdy one (the degree of illumination of her future is up in the air)—but the actresses portraying them are doing their job fairly well.  However, the true highlights belong to Mann, Cena and Barinholtz.  All three prove to be very funny on their own (I especially enjoyed seeing Cena as the uncool and uptight suburban dad) but together they were an amazingly efficient machine of comedy.  They all had such great chemistry as a unit and they really made the story move.

Three people I didn't think would work together but, dammit, they did.

Blockers takes a tired old sex comedy tale and gives it a fresh coat of progressive paint.  It may stray from its path on occasion and feel like it is trying to stretch the story out a little bit.  However, these are momentary speed bumps as the comedy is solid and the cast is fantastic and making even the weakest of comedic moments work.  Overall, it’s a comedy that is better than it could have gotten away with it and that is a damn good thing.

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