It’s been a while since we’ve seen a good R-rated sex comedy and Blockers comes along at just the right time to deliver some big laughs and a bit of a message. With prom season looming, parents may – or may not – want to give this movie a look, depending on how liberal you are when it comes to your kids.

Blockers begins on the eve of a senior prom with three girls – who we see in a cute montage bonding over the years – preparing for the big event. While they decide who to take and what to wear, their parents deal, in their own way, with the reality of their daughters growing up and getting ready to fly the coop. This is particularly hard for single mom Lisa (Leslie Mann), who considers herself more a best friend to her daughter Julie (Kathryn Newton). Dad Mitchell (John Cena) has always had a close relationship with his “tomboy” daughter Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and isn’t quite ready to let her blossom into the young woman she’s becoming. Sam (Gideon Adlon) has the toughest time with the prom not only because her parents (played by Ike Barinholtz and June Diane Raphael) are divorced, but because she has a secret. But Julie has decided that prom night will be the night she loses her virginity, and Kayla and Sam jump on the bandwagon. But accidentally leaving her laptop open, Lisa, Mitchell and Hunter learn about the girls’ #sexpact2018 and launch an offensive to keep their daughters from making a big mistake.

Blockers may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does deliver the laughs, and they’re mostly of the raunch variety courtesy of the adults in their quest to track down their daughters, following them around town from the prom venue to a house party to a hotel party. The girls do indulge in some behavior that would horrify most parents – excessive drinking and some recreational drug use courtesy of Kayla’s date Connor, who is nicknamed “The Chef” because he bakes drugs into everything – but hopefully their physical reactions to all of their indulgences will make those things not seem so attractive. And the parents get themselves into some sticky situations as well, particularly Mitchell – which some have called homophobic, but I disagree (sticking something in your butt doesn’t automatically mean the action is a gay slur).

So, yeah, there is a lot of raunchy humor (and some full frontal – and rear – male nudity, deal with it) but the movie has a message as well – you may want to protect your kids from making what you consider a bad decision, but teenagers aren’t completely reckless people. They will make the best decision for themselves. Of course that’s not always the case in real life, but the movie gives us hope that the next generation will be alright (and it’s a timely message now as we see real teenagers dealing with life in a more mature way than a lot of adults).

The movie’s script by Brian and Jim Kehoe manages to mix the humor with the heart very well, never making anything feel terribly unbalanced. The film’s subject benefits greatly by having a female director at the helm, giving the film a bit more heart than a male director might (although she doesn’t shy away from objectifying a couple of the male cast members, while keeping Gina Gershon relatively covered during a playful sex scene). The adult cast is also terrific, balancing both aspects of the story, handling some of the more slapstick comedy with aplomb while projecting total parental love for their kids. The girls are also terrific with Adlon (daughter of Pamela Adlon) the real standout as Sam, given her more complicated story.

If there’s anything wrong with Blockers, it’s the trailer that sells the whole movie as some sort of slapstick comedy from start to finish (and even includes scenes that are nowhere to be found in the finished movie). Yeah, it’s got that but it has some real heartfelt moments throughout as well, putting this a notch above the typical R-rated “teen sex comedy.” Thanks to a great cast, sharp writing and solid, balanced direction, Blockers has turned out to better than expected.

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Chuck Duncan
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