Heart & basic comedy in Blockers
From Universal Pictures & Good Universe Productions comes Blockers. Screenwriter Kay Cannon known primarily for the Pitch Perfect trilogy, makes her big-screen directing debut with Blockers, passing the script duties to Brian & Jim Kehoe. The plot is quite simplistic, as it involves three parents try to stop their daughters from having sex on prom night.
The first family is the Deckers, comprised of single mom Lisa (Leslie Mann) and her daughter Julie (Kathryn Newton). Lisa & Julie have a loving relationship and come off as not only mother and daughter but also friends.
While Lisa can be a bit overprotective, it's natural as she is a single mom. The second family is more of a traditional family comprised of Mitchell (John Cena), his daughter Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), his wife, and his newborn baby. Mitchell is an all American dad who has raised an athletic daughter and a book smart young woman.
The third family is Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) and his daughter Sam (Gideon Adlon). They are estranged due to Hunter's divorce from Sam's mom. Sam, Lisa & Kayla all met in kindergarten and remained best friends through their senior year of high school. The parents also became friends, and one of the film's highlights was the opening montage of both sets of friends spending time together.
As it often happens, the parents grow apart, but they reunite for the mission to stop their daughters from having sex. The chemistry between Mann, Cena & Barinholtz was a delight to watch. All three commit to their roles, and each has a moment to shine, without ever upstaging their costars. It was great to see Mann in a lead role, as she primarily plays the background when it comes to big-screen comedies.
Barinholtz, who has a comedic background, is reliable as always. His strength lies in his deadpan delivery of one-liners. Cena also gets a chance to shine and appears to have a natural flair for comedy. Cena has a natural, believable charisma that, for me, is stronger here than in his WWE days.
The young actress as well all shine. I found the standouts to be Viswanathan as Kayla and Adion as Sam. Kayla, who appeared to be a tomboy, is growing up right before her father's eyes and the moments she shares with Cena are some of the highlights of the movie. In Sam's role, Adion is good as well; she portrays Sam with a natural charm as a young girl coming to grips with her own sexuality. Some of the film's funnier moments also include cameos from Hannibal Buress as Sam's stepfather and Gina Gershon & Gary Cole as the hypersexual parents of Julie's boyfriend.
While the acting is strong in Blockers, it does have its share of flaws. Blockers script loses some of its edges during the second half of the movie when the tone shifts to a more dramatic angle. The writers also make the mistake that most comedies do, showing the majority of the laugh out loud moments in the trailer. Had the writers expanded the characters of Buress, Cole & Gershon, my grade would be higher.
Despite the strong, sharp performances and some funny moments, Blockers ultimately becomes a bit clichéd. The initial premise becomes a joke spread out too long. The talented cast deserves better than the finished product.
Final Grade C+