SXSW 2018: Blockers: An Instant Classic from Kay Cannon

JOHN CENA, LESLIE MANN and IKE BARINHOLTZ star in "Blockers," the directorial debut of Kay Cannon (writer of the "Pitch Perfect" series). Photo Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert / Universal Pictures.

Blockers is the type of comedy that will lead one to fall out of their seat from laughing so much.

The film will recall classics like Porky’s, Superbad, and American Pie but Blockers is an instant classic in its own right.  After all, how many films feature butt-chugging?!?  Best of all is that Kay Cannon is a female director of an R-rated studio film in which the women get to call the shots of when and how they lose their virginity on prom night.  Parents won’t go out of their way to stop their children from having sex in the same way that Lisa (Leslie Mann), Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), and Mitchell (John Cena) try and stop their children from completing this sex pact.

John Cena’s background isn’t one that shouts comedy so easily but wow, this guy can bring it.  Cena has shown through films like Sisters, Trainwreck, and Daddy’s Home that he’s got a knack for comedy.  He brought a sense if adorable cuteness when he voiced the loveable full, Ferdinand, in 2017.  It’s Blockers, for what it’s worth, that takes Cena to the level of Dwayne Johnson and there’s no argument that can be said there.

On the rising star front, there’s young actress Kathryn Newton in fine form as Julia, who wants to have a magical night when it comes to losing her virginity.  Her performance in the teen sex comedy follows one heck of a 2017, appearing in two films nominated for Best Picture.  After playing the daughter of Oscar winner Frances McDormand, Newton plays the daughter of Lisa.  There’s some animosity between the two of them but Newton plays it sweet and innocent on the surface as she holds her own against Mann–who brings so much emotion into her role as a single mother.  It’s the finest performance from Mann in years.

It’s Hunter’s daughter, Sam (Gideon Adlon), who surprises everyone by coming out.  Sam’s a nerd but she feels pressured by her friends to lose her virginity in a sex pact.  For her, the night ends up being magical in her own way.  She comes to terms with her sexuality and after having a rough patch with her father, they’re able to see eye to eye on things.  The nice thing about Sam as a character is that the film isn’t all about cis-het relationships.

Australian actress Geraldine Viswanathan takes on the tomboy Kayla.  She has to contend with having John Cena play her father.  The same John Cena that adds so much on so many levels to this film.  Layer upon layer of fun.

The unfortunate thing about the film is that composer Mateo Messina’s score is one that will best be heard later on during home media viewing as the hysterics lead to missing the score in general.  While it is a shame that one can barely here the score while viewing, it also speaks to how funny the screenplay is.  With jokes hitting fast and furious, it’s very easy to be lost amid the roaring laughter.

What makes Blockers such a unique teen sex comedy and one to stand out above the others is that the film focused on females rather than males.  Not only this but Pitch Perfect screenwriter Kay Cannon decides to make the move to the director’s chair.  This has been a long time coming but Cannon’s directorial debut is going to be among the top comedies of 2018, be it mainstream or indie.

A man wouldn’t have been able to direct Blockers in the same way that a woman would do so.  This is what makes Cannon such a great option for the film.  The release of the film comes at a time in which women don’t get the same opportunities as men and that has to change.

Blockers is the type of film that shows a certain level of emotion and heart while making sure that the film is able to play for laughs.

DIRECTOR:  Kay Cannon
SCREENWRITERS:  Brian Kehoe & Jim Kehoe
CAST:  Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Indira Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon

An official selection of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, Blockers held it’s world premiere on March 10, 2018.  Universal Pictures will release in theaters on April 6, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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