Don’t let the prom dresses fool you — the high school girls in Blockers came to slay

Finally, a movie that’s not ashamed to focus on John Cena’s tears, Gary Cole’s sack and the hilarious consequences of butt-chugging.

click to enlarge Preparing for the night of their young lives, Connor, Kayla, Julie, Austin, Sam and Chad bid their parents adieu to depart for prom. - Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures
Preparing for the night of their young lives, Connor, Kayla, Julie, Austin, Sam and Chad bid their parents adieu to depart for prom.

My mom tried to cock-block me once.

On the night before I left for college, she came to my room and awkwardly thrust a box of condoms into my hands. "Just in case," she said between heaving sobs. "But don’t use them!"

Nine months later, when I returned for summer break, she demanded to see the box, which was still unopened. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I figured out she had marked the box so she would know if I’d tampered with it. Or that I just went out and bought my own.

Parents can do some crazy things in the name of protecting their children. But I’ve got to hand it to Blockers, the new teen-sex comedy, because not even my mother, as crafty as she was, would have thought to go to these hilarious lengths.

Blockers is the story of three parents — single mom Lisa (Leslie Mann), overprotective father Mitchell (John Cena, who has come a long way since his 2009 action debut 12 Rounds) and absentee dad Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) — and their respective daughters, Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon).

Julie, Kayla and Sam make a pact on the eve of prom to finally go all the way with a guy and get the stress and social pressure of sex out of the way before college. Julie picks Austin, her boyfriend of six months; Kayla targets her chemistry lab partner, Connor; and Sam concedes to do the deed with Chad, even though she’s secretly harboring feelings for someone else. (Hint: Z Nation)

When Julie accidentally leaves her laptop on, Lisa reads the girls’ Facebook messages with horror. She immediately enlists Mitchell to help her foil the prom-sex-pact plan. Hunter decides to go along to stop them from ruining his daughter’s big night.

click to enlarge Mitchell (John Cena, left), Lisa (Leslie Mann) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) discover just what their daughters have planned for prom night. - Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures
Mitchell (John Cena, left), Lisa (Leslie Mann) and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) discover just what their daughters have planned for prom night.

What immediately distinguishes Blockers from the 1980’s-heyday of teen sex comedies (Porky’s, The Last American Virgin, Spring Break) is both noticeable and notable.

This is a film directed by a woman (Kay Cannon — 30 Rock, Pitch Perfect) that refuses to shy away from raunchy, puerile humor or gross-out sight gags, while never once making any of its young female stars look trampy, trashy or ill-informed. If anything, these girls are miles ahead of their parents when it comes to common sense decisions.

Another welcome discovery is how deftly Cannon and her screenwriters handle Sam’s sexual identity awakening, including a beautiful moment sure to make any fathers in the audience openly weep.

Blockers benefits from top-notch acting across the board, with Viswanathan proving to be a breakout star and Newton showing a softer, funnier side than fans have seen from her role as monster-hunting Claire Novak on Supernatural.

But, if you’ve watched any of the movie’s preview trailers, you know what to expect. And, boy howdy, Blockers is one of the raunchiest and funniest films to arrive in theaters in quite some time.

Consider these bon mots:

After Kayla informs Connor of her plan, he politely responds, “Wherever the night takes us,” which is exactly what a gentleman should say.

“It’s going to take your penis into my vagina,” Kayla sternly corrects him.

“I saw this in a romantic comedy, American Beauty,” Julie tells Austin as she prepares a room with scented candles and rose petals to herald their coitus. “Did you watch the whole thing?” he asks.

Or when Mitchell, Hunter and Lisa get stopped trying to sneak into an after-prom party, two high school students challenge Mitchell to an unusual, and hysterically rendered, beer-chugging contest that resembles a high colonic.

“It’s not a common occurrence, but I have had things up there before,” Lisa says, pointing to her backside, trying to reassure Mitchell. “It’s all about the breathing.”

The jokes land with deadly precision, rat-a-tat-tat machine-gun style, so much so that it hurt to breathe at times, but Blockers never forgets to return to its very positive, poignant and timely message of female empowerment.

Along the way, Blockers pays homage to specific moments from a handful of familiar films, whether Stand By Me’s classic pie-eating upchuck disaster or Jurassic Park’s tremoring water glass. That moment, which features a wonderfully exposed cameo by Gary Cole, also serves as a noteworthy change from the traditional topless disrobing that punctuated almost every classic teen-sex comedy.   

click to enlarge Remember the good old days of keg stands? That's so vintage and lame compared to a 40 oz butt chug. - Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures
Remember the good old days of keg stands? That's so vintage and lame compared to a 40 oz butt chug.

By the end of prom night, Blockers delivers the reassurance that parents crave and the realization that they dread.

“I am not some damsel in distress,” Kayla tells Mitchell, after he’s thrown Connor across a hotel room and into a wall.

Yes, it’s true, young adults sometimes make terrible decisions.

And living in this unbridled digital age of ghosting, gaslighting and swipe-righting, it’s understandable that parents might live in constant panic about the sexual sanctity of their daughters and sons.

But youth finds a way, and the path these intelligent, confident and very woke young women choose is sure to both surprise and delight you.

About The Author

John W. Allman

John W. Allman has spent more than 25 years as a professional journalist and writer, but he’s loved movies his entire life. Good movies, awful movies, movies that are so gloriously bad you can’t help but champion them. Since 2009, he has cultivated a review column and now a website dedicated to the genre films...
Scroll to read more Events & Film articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]