Blockers is the most recent in the seemingly never end line of movies about high school prom. It’s understandable as to why there are so many movies about this time; it’s a pivotal moment in a young persons life, we all remember prom. It also works cinematically and as a story telling device. Everything can lead up to and end with this moment. The problem is there have been so many of these that it has become stale and unoriginal. That is also a perfect way to describe Blockers.
Blockers follows three high school girls as they create a sex pact to lose their virginities on prom night. The only original part of the movie is the perspective in which the movie takes place. Even though it is about the girl’s sex pact, it mostly takes place from the perspective of the parents (played by Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz). This means that the chemistry between these actors is important to the movie’s success, however this is one of the areas where this movie failed. These three characters worked together, which led to their moments together falling flat. The same could be said for the high school girls played by Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and Gideon Adlon. The girls didn’t feel like actual friends and there wasn’t anything to their relationship. It was literally built by them showing up to school at the same time and that’s all we really know. Depth and character motivation isn’t necessary for this movie to work but in this case some would have helped. On the most basic level the characters need to be fun to watch together and they weren’t.
Basic is another good word to describe Blockers. The movie is set with a basic premise with characters that can be easily defined by archetypes (dead beat dad, over protective dad, clingy mom) and it goes through the basic motions of a comedy. It felt like the movie moved from one comedic set piece to the next. There wasn’t really anything in between. This would have been fine if any of those comedic moments worked but none of them did. The moments weren’t funny and didn’t put the characters into situations that were even fun to watch. John Cena chugging beer with his butt, Leslie Mann trying to push her car over and Ike Barinholtz getting his balls grabbed by a woman are not funny situations. All of them were situations that were forgettable almost as soon as they were over, which is what this movie ends up being as a whole.
Blockers isn’t just all laughs, it tries for some emotional and meaningful moments. To their credit, writers Brian and Jim Kehoe wrote in a moment where characters discuss the double standard between men and women in regards to sex. One of the girls was a lesbian and her dad supported it. They also addressed how hard it is to be a parent and let your kids go. Almost none of these worked because they were surrounded with meaningless characters in even meaningless situations. An example of this is the relationship between Lisa (Leslie Mann) and her daughter Julie (Kathryn Newton). This relationship is a mess. They are presented as best friends and that they love spending time with each other, until prom night when Julie acts the exact opposite towards her mom and can’t stand to be around her. This culminates with a phone conversation where Julie says she’s going to college across the country so she can get as far away from her mom as possible. That is the last conversation they have together until the final scene in the movie where Lisa is saying goodbye to her UCLA bound daughter. Maybe hearing Julie say that changed the way Lisa views their relationship or they way she parents. Unfortunately we don’t know because it’s never addressed. The problem with this is that the emotional moment they were going for with the phone conversation or the one at the end of the movie falls flat because there is nothing really there. It’s good that they took swings on these things but the execution was so poor, the movie would have been better without them.
As a whole Blockers doesn’t work. It’s not funny, fun or even memorable. No one gives a performance that will stick in your mind and they aren’t very many moments that will stick in your mind either. To sum it up in one word, forgettable.