The Only Thing ‘Blockers’ Stops is Audiences’ Laughter

img_8664Directed by the writer of “Pitch Perfect,” co-written by the guys who created “Harold and Kumar,” produced by the team behind “Superbad” and starring a great, proven cast. What could go wrong? (A lot, apparently)

“Blockers” stars Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena as parents who try to stop their daughters (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and Gideon Adlon) from losing their virginities on prom night. Kay Cannon, known for writing the “Pitch Perfect” trilogy, makes her directorial debut.

I was looking forward to this one. The trailers were very funny, John Cena has proven he’s a rising comedic talent, I’ve always been an Ike Barinholtz fan and Leslie Mann occasionally ditches her annoying shrieking to be quite amusing. Partnered with the fact Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg produced this you would think it was a recipe for a “Superbad” spiritual successor. You’d be wrong.

This film just has no idea how a feature should be properly constructed. The “script” (very generous term considering 90% of this film is clearly improv) by Brian Kehoe, Jim Kehoe, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Eben Russell is just rapid-fire jokes, responses and pop culture references which can sometimes work in the right hands (“This Is the End” is a gem) and other times go horribly wrong (“Your Highness” is very much not good).

The editing of the film is also just awkward. Scenes will end abruptly, sometimes before it seems plot points are even played out to their entirety. On numerous occasions, because the actors are doing one-take riffing, shots will be stapled together with characters having different facial expressions or body language than the previous shot and it’s a distracting continuity nightmare.

The performances are all fine but the constant riffing makes it hard to get invested. Everyone is just playing their typical type and aren’t given any real stretching to do, and by the end of the film when characters try to learn lessons we are so divested that we don’t care.

Speaking of, at its core the film does have good intentions and more heart than the typical raunch sex comedy. But a lot like “Neighbors 2” the intended message is shoved down viewers’ throat that you get annoyed (difference is “Neighbors 2” is a funny film). The first time they talk about female empowerment and the notion of teen girls being interested in sex as much as boys it feels fresh and you nod in agreement; when they literally stop the movie for a sixth time to go on a rant it gets old.

“Blockers” is a disappointing waste of some incredibly talented people and an untapped potential of a premise. It has no flow and the few times I did laugh they were nothing but pity, “ugh I wish this was funnier” chuckles. “Game Night” set the bar for 2018 comedies high right out the gate, and this thing doesn’t even come close to grazing it.

Critic’s Grade: C–


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