Kay Cannon honed her writing chops on “30 Rock,” “New Girl” and the “Pitch Perfect” films. Now she’s bringing her weirdo-girly sensibility to the director’s chair, making her directorial debut on the raunchy teen sex comedy “Blockers.”
It dives into the anxiety that overprotective parents have about their daughters growing up too fast, actualized here as a prom night sex pact. The girls do go wild, but the parents go even wilder to try and stop them.
Two trios of performers square off. In one corner, we have up-and-coming stars Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and Gideon Adlon as Julie, Kayla and Sam, who have been best friends since kindergarten. In the other corner, we’ve got Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz as Lisa, Mitchell and Hunter, the parents thrown together by default when their kids befriended each other.
The movie gets off to a bit of a rocky start. The character back stories are essentially nonexistent, and their relationships are confusing. The movie doesn’t find its rhythm until the prom gets underway and the parents hop into the action.
Although the idea of parents hysterically trying to stop their 18-year-old daughters from “losing their innocence” seems like a retrograde notion, the film includes a modern counterargument. Mitchell’s wife (Sarayu Blue) — the only seemingly sensible adult — argues that their girls should be allowed to explore their sexuality on their own terms. Although essentially shoehorned in, this is crucial for the film to work.
“Blockers” is often laugh-out-loud funny, thanks to the cast — you just wish they all had a little more to work with. WWE star Cena, who demonstrated his faculty for comedy in “Trainwreck” and “Sisters,” steals the show as the strait-laced superdad who is often the butt of the joke. Kudos also goes to Viswanathan and Adlon.
This raunchy teen sex comedy radically places teen girls in the driver’s seat of their own sexual agency, but it never sacrifices the dumb, weird or gross moments that make the genre what it is — be that for better or for worse.