It feels wrong to call the central conceit of Blockers a fresh perspective on well-established material. It doesn't feel wrong because, in some way, Brian and Joe Kehoe's screenplay rewrites the rules of the teen sex comedy or anything but because it feels like this very scenario should feel tired. Indeed, the freshness of this experiment lies directly in the fact that it offers a gender-swapped twist on the establishment but keeps the beats of the genre elements pretty much exactly the same as they've always been. The variation is that, instead of the male perspective being in the spotlight, the film casts three teenage girls as the sex-driven horn-dogs out to get some action.

Kay Cannon's directorial debut is a raunchy comedy in the vein of so many others that take on this premise, though, so the archetypes are present: Julie (Kathryn Newton) has been with her beau Austin (Graham Phillips) for six months (a long time in her limited estimation), and their imminent prom night that very evening seems like the best time to do the deed. Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) decides upon hearing Julie's plan that she's down for whatever, as well, except without as much conviction. Sam (Gideon Adlon) also agrees to the sex pact but out of loyalty to her friends, as it isn't the male classmates whom she finds most agreeable.

This is one story being told here. The other one eventually becomes the main thrust of the narrative. Lisa (Leslie Mann), Julie's divorced mother, sees a few of her daughter's text messages through a connection to the Cloud. This prompts her, Kayla's overly protective father Mitchell (John Cena), and Sam's generally absent dad Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) to go on a series of misadventures while chasing down their daughters to delay the inevitable. It's mostly an excuse for us to see the misadventures, such as Mitchell's lesson in an alternative kind of beer-chugging exercise or a nighttime car chase with some explosive vomiting.

It helps that the actors are so game. Mann captures a single mother's past regrets and future fears of a daughter going off to college (which inevitably leads to a telephone argument where both say things they don't mean to each other in theatrical ways they don't mean, either). Cena's Mitchell is only overprotective because he means well, and though he inevitably throws Kayla's date Connor (Miles Robbins) into a wall of the hotel room where they are making out, he doesn't have a mean bone in his body. Barinholtz's Hunter is a voice of reason about the double standards of their plan, and his tendency to be wacky comes from an inevitable place of insecurity about his relationships.

As comic actors, they are just as adept, especially Cena, whose Mitchell gets the short end of the stick in most of these set-ups. Of more interest, though, is the plot involving the girls, which finds them coming of age in important and formative ways in a relatively short period of time. The actresses (but especially Viswanathan, who needs to be cast in everything now) commit to the raunchy material, talking frankly of their hormonal and physical needs and wants. They are the ones who anchor Blockers, a funny movie with a lot of heart, an understanding of these girls' budding sexuality, and a willingness to go to the edges of its R-rating with that understanding./p>

Film Information

Leslie Mann (Lisa), John Cena (Hunter), Ike Barinholtz (Hunter), Kathryn Newton (Julie), Geraldine Viswanathan (Kayla), Gideon Adlon (Sam), Graham Phillips (Austin), Miles Robbins (Connor), Jimmy Bellinger (Chad), Sarayu Blue (Marcie), June Diane Raphael (Brenda), Hannibal Buress (Frank), Gary Cole (Austin's Dad), Gina Gershon (Austin's Mom).

Directed by Kay Cannon and written by Brian and Joe Kehoe.

Rated R (crude/sexual content, language throughout, drug content, teen partying, graphic nudity).

102 minutes.

Released on April 6, 2018.

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