Hugs, Drugs, and Butt Chugs – Blockers

Judd Apatow technically only gets a Special Thanks credit on the parent/teenager sex romp comedy, Blockers (illustrated with a chicken before the word in case you needed something to slap you across the face), but his fingerprints are all over it. The film is produced in part by Seth Rogen, there are dick jokes to beat the band, his wife Leslie Mann is cast in a role much better suited for Judy Greer, soon-to-be dated pop culture references litter the entire proceedings, and it’s about 20 minutes or more too long.

All that said, the movie isn’t half bad. It’s not great, but it’s alright and good for a few decent laughs.

Essentially there are two interwoven stories going on. Kay Cannon (writer of the Pitch Perfect films) makes her directorial debut as three friends decide to lose their virginity at their senior prom. Sounds like American Pie, right? Well, wrong, cause these kids have lady parts! Julie (Kathryn Newton, from Gary Unmarried), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon, daughter of Pamela) all have their reasons to pop their various cherries: Julie because she thinks prom is the “perfect time” to finally sleep with her boyfriend of six months, Kayla just cause she likes being aggressive and strong, and Sam because she’s trying to hide the fact that she’s a lesbian.

Meanwhile, an individual parent of each girl (Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz respectively), who used to be friends when they were younger, have become somewhat estranged, and each has their own issues raising their child. Lisa (Mann) is too attached to Julie, trying to be her friend to avoid becoming an empty nester. Mitchell (Cena, occasionally playing against type, and that’s when he’s at his best) is way too overprotective. Hunter (Barinholtz) is something of an absentee parent after a nasty divorce.

After the trio of girls leave for prom, the parents discover Julie’s computer, which has her text chat open, because ubiquitous Apple products are linked that way. After a way less funny than they think redux of The Emoji Movie – along with some terrible hashtags – they figure out the girls’ sex pact, and decide to thwart it at all costs. Well, sort of. Lisa thinks Julie’s not as attached to her boyfriend Austin (Graham Phillips of The Good Wife) as she really is, and wants to stop her daughter from a) leaving her, and b) making the same mistakes that led her to be a single mom. Mitchell wants to make sure his daughter doesn’t fuck a guy with a man-bun (noble cause as far as I’m concerned). Hunter is actually trying to be a good parent, hoping to facilitate a memorable evening as a means to reopen relations with Sam, and his only concern is that he intuitively knows she’s gay, and doesn’t want her to feel pressured to have sex with a boy because that’s what normal society says. It’s weird, but even though he’s played as a jackass, Hunter is the only one who actually seems to have a grasp on who his daughter is as a person, and who generally wants to do right by her instead of focusing solely on personal interest.

Each act takes the two sets of characters to three different locations. First is the prom itself, where nothing of consequence really happens, except the kids getting drunk, and Sam flirting with another girl named Angelica, who is open and out. The next takes them to a friend’s lake house, where the parents try to break up the party while Kayla and Julie have an aborted first try. Finally, they go to a hotel where the kids have rented out an entire floor for class shenanigans, and everything comes to its fairly predictable head.

In between, there are diversions and road blocks, mostly for the parents, and it’s here that we get the best comedy (thankfully the funniest bits weren’t given away in the trailers). An erotic game of hide and seek starring Gary Cole and Gina Gershon is the highlight of the entire film. John Cena butt chugs a beer to prove he’s “cool” enough for suburban white kids (which the whole time I’m just wondering how the fuck all these kids afford these lake houses and mansions and hotel suites – fuckin’ a). Mitchell’s wife Marcy (Sarayu Blue) also gets to dole out the one bit of nuance in the film, chastising the three others for trying to stop their daughters having sex, whereas if they were boys they’d be encouraged. It’s about as woke as the movie gets, and it’s glossed over like a nagging wife being in the way, but at least it’s something.

In the end, the reconciliations and resolutions don’t exactly feel earned, more a perfunctory bow to make sure we don’t get into true Apatovian overtime, but it more or less works, and the jokes are solid enough to prevent us from getting too bored.

Still, I just couldn’t relate as much as I wanted to. There were a lot of continuity errors (watch Sam’s stepfather, played by Hannibal Buress, talk with his back to the camera; his jaw doesn’t sync up with the dialogue for example), there’s WAY too much millennial pandering for a movie that’s more intended for people over 25, and there’s something of a mixed message when parents are so committed to preventing sex but they ignore/actively participate in the underage drinking and drug use that’s an actual crime. Also, the girls’ friendship theme song is “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld, which I pray was used ironically, because otherwise it’s telling us that teenage girls who seek to get laid bonded over a song about masturbation (can you believe she was nominated for an Oscar at one point?).

So yeah, this isn’t a great movie, but it’s also not bad. I was surprised at how well it was doing on Rotten Tomatoes (82% as of publication), because honestly the trailers seemed horrendous. But I will admit I enjoyed some parts, and there were a few bits that had me laughing pretty hard. Still, you’ll miss nothing if you wait until it’s available on home video.

Grade: B-

Join the conversation in the comments below! What film should I review next? Is John Cena a legitimate actor now? What type of beer would you prefer to have shoved up your keister? Let me know! Or rather, maybe not with the beer!

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