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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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“Blockers” Is More Than a Stereotypical Raunch-com

John Cena is an American wrestler who happens to be a surprisingly good actor. He has appeared in 49 television series and movies, including recently released “Blockers.”

While Julie, Kayla and Sam (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and Gideon Adlon) — three best friends and high school seniors — make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night, their parents come together to prevent it from happening. “Blockers” details how far Lisa, Mitchell and Hunter (Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz respectively) are willing to go to prevent their daughters from having sex.

A warning before we start, imdb.com explains “Blockers” is “Rated R for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying and some graphic nudity.” This article will contain minor spoilers.

High school may not have been exactly like this for many of us, but the humor, themes and social commentary of “Blockers” are surprisingly coherent with a plot full of twists that tie multiple locations together, making the movie itself seem more realistic and relatable.

Directed — and written, in part — by Kay Cannon and written by Jim and Brian Kehoe, “Blockers” takes a different stance on female sexuality while exploring the different relationships people have with their parents, their friends and significant others. Instead of being a movie solely about sex and keeping girls innocent, “Blockers” is a coming-of-age story for teen girls and, for parents, a comedy centered around a common parental fear — with a lot of sex jokes.

The jokes land well because the characters are believable. Julie, Kayla, Sam and their parents are very well developed characters for the amount of screen-time dedicated to explaining their motives and backstories, though this is, in part, due to the fact that these are character types audiences have seen before. Lisa is the typical suburban mom. She’s attached to her daughter, Julie, and wants the best for her and for Julie to not make the same mistakes she did growing up. Julie is young, wants to have fun and be independent, even if it means moving across the country for college. Mitchell is an overprotective sports dad who wants his daughter, Kayla, to succeed and taught her to do so the best way he knew how: through a wide variety of sports. Like Julie, Kayla wants to be independent and to prove herself as the strong, hard-working and goal-oriented person her father taught her to be. Hunter is the screw-up. He wasn’t a large part of his daughter, Sam’s, life after a messy divorce, but he wants to be there for his daughter and give her a night to remember. Surprisingly, Hunter is the voice of reason throughout the movie, as he wants Sam to experience life to the fullest and make her own decisions based on her values and merits. Sam is smart but unsure of herself and signs onto the pact to keep her secret hidden.

Each of these characters not only embodies different types of relationships among parents and planned partners, but they also have different senses of humor that fit in with the tone of the movie. The characters interact well with each other, which prevents the jokes from falling flat. Every joke is given the opportunity to stand by itself and shine without excessive of build-up. They are direct and land well with “Blockers” intended audience. Even though this movie is centered around sex and uses crude humor to drive points home, the movie was not superfluously vulgar. The carefully crafted comedy, both the lewd one-liners and emoji centered jokes, was surprisingly refreshing because many recent comedies have failed to create a balance between crude and creative.

“Blockers” also had a refreshing narrative. The movie doesn’t explicitly state whether or not sex at 18 is right or wrong, instead it focuses on creating arguments about the double standards many have surrounding boys and girls when it comes to sex, emotions and communication. Julie’s boyfriend, Austin (Graham Phillips) is crucial in illustrating not only the popular, masculine boy but also the boy who feels comfortable talking about sex with his parents. He even goes so far as to call his own virginity his “flower” (a term that has Lisa questioning whether or not boys have one.) The light-hearted tone of “Blockers” keeps jokes like these from being offensive and instead leaves the audience thinking about the way we perceive boys and how we feel about their coming-of-age through sexual relations.

The jokes were not the only carefully crafted aspect of “Blockers.” The progression of the story itself was carefully created to be the most plausible progression of events. It all starts when Julie accidentally leaves her computer open, displaying the messages she and her friends had been sending in a group chat about a sex pact. Then, it begins to explain how and why Lisa, Mitchell and Hunter were going from place to place (Cannon and the Kehoes include a variety of settings, like their daughters’ high school, a house party and a hotel.) Though some events are larger than life, every situation makes sense, is believable in the context of the film and means more than the surface satire.

As a social satire and delicate raunch-com, “Blockers” is definitely worth seeing, even if only for the cohesive, creative and careful combination of elements Cannon brings together to give the film its modern and light-hearted vibe and its believable narrative.

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