Comedy trailers can be misleading—either you give away the good jokes or you hold back and risk your movie looking stupid, choose your poison—and no comedy trailer has been more misleading in recent memory than the trailers for Blockers. The trailers are awful and make the movie look excruciating, which is criminal advertising because Blockers is FUNNY. Don’t even bother with the trailers, just go see Blockers, especially if you’re in need of a laugh. You will definitely laugh during Blockers. Often and loudly.
Kay Cannon, best known as the writer of the Pitch Perfect movies, makes her directorial debut and acquits herself well (working off a script by Brian Kehoe & Jim Kehoe, but I can’t help but wonder if Cannon did uncredited work on it). Blockers is equal parts teen comedy, boner comedy, and gross-out comedy, and as an added bonus the characters are actual real people, which means when the inevitable third-act emotional beats start dropping, they actually, effectively land.
The movie is split between two parallel narratives. In one, three teen girls make a sex pact to get laid after prom. In the other, their parents attempt to stop them getting laid after prom. Or rather, two out of three parents try to stop them while the third parent is there to constantly point out what a terrible idea it is to interfere with their kids’ lives in this way. The teen girls are delightful: Julie (Kathryn Newton, Big Little Lies) is the ringleader, determined to have sex with her boyfriend; Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan, the clear breakout) is the energetic tomboy; and Sam (Gideon Adlon, daughter of Pamela Adlon) is the nerd coming to terms with her sexuality. They’re equal parts adorable, raunchy, and funny, and Blockers works in large part because these three hold up their end of the deal, equaling, if not surpassing, the comedy chops of the adult cast.
The adults, meanwhile, are led by Leslie Mann as Lisa, Julie’s single-mom parent. She’s joined by Hunter (Ike Barinholtz, once again stealing scenes left and right), Sam’s divorced dad shunned by the neighborhood for sleeping with the babysitter, and Mitchell (John Cena), Kayla’s uptight dork dad. Cena does not have quite the charisma of the other professional-wrestler turned movie star, Dwayne Johnson, but he is engaging enough to get the job done and he commits to the bit, which goes a long way to selling the more ridiculous gags in the movie. But where there is Ike Barinholtz, so Ike Barinholtz shall dominate, so he comes out the best among the adults. It doesn’t hurt he also has the character arc with the most depth and gets a genuinely moving scene with his estranged daughter. Ike Barinholtz has a lot to do. John Cena mostly just has to get through a scene where his character butt-chugs to prove he’s not a cop.
The only real issue with Blockers is that characters keep having on-the-nose conversations about women’s right to sex and agency. Hunter is the presumptive worst parent in the group, but he’s also the one with the best grasp not only on his own kid’s reality, but also the larger point that parents meddling in their kids’ sex lives is creepy and weird and a total double standard—as everyone points out, no one would care if it was their sons trying to get laid. But Mitchell and Lisa, each for their own reasons, want to stop their daughters, and even Hunter grows concerned when he thinks Sam is succumbing to the pressure to keep up with her friends, lest she be left behind.
That stuff works way better than the “women like sex, too” talk. We’re still not in a place where women—especially young women—can pursue sex without social recrimination, so I understand why the subject keeps coming up, but there’s no denying a loss of momentum every time someone stops to talk about how it’s perfectly natural and fine for young women to want to have sex, too. What works much better is when the various parent/child sets relate through their unique circumstances, such as Julie and Lisa dealing with Lisa’s latent empty nest syndrome, or Sam and Hunter repairing their relationship.
But Blockers is a comedy, and the comedy in Blockers is GREAT. We’ve been lucky with comedies lately, but Blockers is far and away the funniest movie since Girls Trip last summer. I’ll take the occasional stilted conversation about women’s agency in exchange for the sheer volume of good jokes in the movie, none of which are in the trailer. (Seriously, disregard the trailers.) Blockers crosses too many sub-genres to be classified as a specific type of comedy, so it’s categorized as “f*cking funny” by default. It’s a f*cking funny movie with an unfortunate ad campaign.