Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Blockers’ shows that even parents have some growing up to do

An imperfect but entertaining comedy

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

By Charlie Turner, Collegian Staff

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Here’s a question for you: Ever thought about butt-chugging as an effective way to get closer with your kids? Better question: Do you have any idea what I just asked you? If you answered “no” to either of these, Universal Pictures’ “Blockers” will be a whirlwind of a film for you.

This raunchy comedy, which stars everyone’s second-favorite WWE superstar, John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz, is an exaggerated story about the pains parents go through when their children start turning into adults. Mixing slapstick and burlesque humor with a surprisingly heartfelt narrative, this relatable comedy isn’t going to blow you away, but it’ll undoubtedly challenge your expectations of lewd cinema.

John Cena steps away from his action hero and animated farm animal persona to fill the cargo shorts of anxious father, Mitchell, who’s drowning in the turmoil of his daughter growing up. The film opens as he sends Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) off to pre-school, instantly bonding with two other parents, Hunter (Barinholtz) and Lisa (Mann), who are going through a similar nostalgia-filled cry session. The three become friends almost effortlessly, and their friendship is as awkward and weird as it is entertaining.

From there, we jump ahead to prom: the most exciting and emotionally exhausting night for the parents of Kayla, Julie (Kathryn Newton) and Sam (Gideon Adlon). While the girls anticipate the glorified dance, creating implausible expectations, their parents try to accept their children’s inevitable adulthood. However, when they discover that the three girls are all in agreement to lose their virginities before the night is over, Mitchell, Lisa and Hunter spring into action to block any and all chances of that expectation being met with success.

What works well for “Blockers” is that the film focuses on something incredibly relatable that both teenagers and parents will understand. On the side of the high schoolers, Kayla, Julie and Sam only want to grow up fast and move away to college, leaving their childhood years behind them. These plans for premature adulthood create obstacles that prove much harder to jump over than first thought, which leads them to some embarrassing yet hilarious situations. The relationships with their parents – which are arguably too close for comfort at times – only stunt their ability to experience the world, and this sheltered lifestyle is explored through their rebellious acts.

On the other team, the stress and anxiety of the three starring parents shows how hard it is to let go of what was once so simple and perfect. The film gives us three demographics to follow: a single mother, an interracial couple and a divorced family that rarely mingles unless forced to during notable celebrations. These different households aren’t nearly as explored as they could be, but this variety allows each of the parents to worry from a different point of view, creating a recognizable and sympathetic narrative.

Following this, “Blockers” heightens these worrisome “what ifs” with college-style humor, ranging from numerous innuendoes, aberrant sexual lifestyles and a jagged collage of excessive drug and alcohol use. Of course, the primary goal is to make you laugh, and while it works, the underlying themes of stepping out of one’s comfort zone are what makes these moments memorable. It’s not anything that thought-provoking or unique, but in a comedy that features Cena butt-chugging at a high school party, it’s surprisingly welcomed.

With this mix of humor and heart, “Blockers” does hit a few issues with regard to pacing, especially in the last act. It can’t quite figure out which genre it wants to build upon the most and tries switching back and forth to satisfy both. It doesn’t always work out in the film’s favor, though, especially when some of the humor is replaced with cheesy dialogue. Fortunately, this only occurs in a handful of situations and doesn’t affect the overall narrative to the point of it feeling broken or unbalanced – it’s just one of the few quirks that makes “Blockers” an imperfect, but entertaining foul-mouthed comedy.

Charlie Turner can be reached at [email protected]

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