Blu-ray Review: Blockers

By , Contributor
Blockers presents a teen sex romp with two twists. First, the focus here is on high school females trying to lose their virginity. Remember of course, that American Pie offered both the male and female side of the "should we or shouldn't we 'go all the way'" dilemma. But the guys, led by Jason Biggs, dominated that series despite strong turns by gals like Mena Suvari and Alyson Hannigan. Secondly, Blockers splits its screen-time equally between the horny teen girls and their worrisome parents.

The parents are portrayed in winningly energetic fashion by Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz. In fact, their scenes are considerably funnier than the generally predictable (and annoyingly snark-filled) students played by Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon. Basically, as we've seen countless times before, the kids make a "sex pact" that involves losing their virginity on prom night. Oh, and they each get one additional trait. Julie (Newton), Lisa's (Mann) daughter, wants to go out-of-state for college. Kayla (Viswanathan), Mitchell's (Cena) daughter, is a fitness-conscious athlete. And Sam (Adlon), Hunter's (Barinholtz) daughter, is a closeted lesbian. 

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The three girls and their three parents (they each have two parents—Sam even has Hannibal Buress as a step-parent) have all been friends since the girls were small. The parents can't believe their little girls are about to make that big step toward adulthood. The exasperation Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter exhibit as they go to extraordinary lengths to halt their kids' sexual awakenings is the comedic engine that drives Blockers. The girls are portrayed as typical know-it-all millennials who have a quip standing by for just about anything. They each have prom dates who are presented even thinner teen stereotypes.

Universal's Blu-ray edition promises "outrageous bonus content," and like most such promises that's not quite accurate. There are three dull bonus scenes, a gag reel, a typical "Line-O-Rama" reel of improvised line variations, and a series of six under-ten-minute featurettes. Most valuable for those who enjoy Blockers is an audio commentary by director Kay Cannon (writer of the Pitch Perfect series; this is her directorial debut). Based on some sampling of the track, it sounds like Cannon has some interesting information to share about Blockers' production.

Blockers is generally funny in the same way that other recent bawdy ensemble efforts like Tag and Game Night have been. The laughs are relatively frequent, but more often than not they just don't stick. The sweetest character arc belongs to Sam and Hunter. While Hunter is the brashest of the parents, with what appears to be the worst parent/child relationship, both Adlon and Barinholtz deliver genuine warmth. At its worst, Blockers offers the spectacle of Kayla, so dedicated to sports and clean living, getting high on every imaginable substance and then lying to her father Mitchell. Meanwhile, we're expected to actually believe she and her dad have a strong relationship. That's Blockers at its most cynical and sad, and it's enough to sink the film's otherwise harmless good spirits.

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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