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Hilarious 'Blockers' is a comedy with initiative

I went into Blockers wanting to laugh a lot after a couple days and the film provided me with the escapism medicine that I was craving. Nothing cures sadness like well-designed comedy.
Universal Pictures

Prom night is the end of innocence for teenagers and the beginning of the panic zone for parents. Kay Cannon, who brought the smash hit trilogy of Pitch Perfect to life, makes quite the entrance with her directorial debut, Blockers. This is a film that will make you laugh out loud and appreciate its initiative for being different than most teen comedies.

Julie (Kathryn Newrton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon) have known each other since they were kids, thanks to their parents: Lisa (Leslie Mann), Mitchell (John Cena), and Hunter (Ike Barinholtz). The best of friends, the three young women want to make their big night something special, which spells doom for the trio of clingy adults can't figure out how to let go. When they get wind of a group text message between their daughters about a certain kind of plan for their big night, they take it upon themselves to stop it from happening-but can they do so without embarrassing their kids for life?

Screenwriting brothers Brian and Jim Kehoe take the familiar setup of a high schooler's big night and shuffle the point of view, so the audience gets a little of everything. Instead of relying solely on the teen perspective, the adults get a fair share of the action, which makes the film appealing for every age group. The script isn't a complete mashup of gross-out humor or parent jokes. The Kehoe brothers find a way to make old tricks seem fresh.

They also don't write the teenagers like every other teen comedy. Talk about a hat that gets worn too often. You either have the testosterone point of view, which follows the two jerks who want to get laid and the earnest nerd who just wants romance. Or you get the female perspective with the stuck-up rich girl with an overweight friend and a closeted friend who has a crush on the nerd. Thankfully, in Blockers, you get original and innovative creations from Cannon and the Kehoe Brothers.

Viswanathan gives Kayla a wild spunky energy that grows with the film, while Sam is hiding something that is easy to figure out, but warm enough to follow. Julie has her man picked out, but will the night go right with her clingy mother close by? The young actors are all good here, giving their heroines something extra.

Cena, Mann, and Barinholtz mesh well together, with each character playing to their strengths. Mitchell is the intense and overbearing sports addict who gets emotional easily, which plays to Cena's knack for vulnerable tough guys. Barinholtz is best-known of The Mindy Project, and plays the loose cannon single parent dad who is trying to get his daughter's respect back quite well. Mann's potty-mouthed mom with an edge is her only speed, but one she manages to make appealing and funny.

Add it all up and you have a recipe for comedy. I measure a comedy by how many times I laugh out loud. If it gets me screaming at least five times, it's a worthy flick. Blockers got me going seven times and I literally slammed my seat laughing when Hunter references Vin Diesel in a chase sequence. Yes, there is an episode of "buttchugging" and Gary Cole and Gina Gershon show up as the world's most horniest couple. Right when you think the surprises are tapped out, they come back five minutes later.

The 102 minutes move well, and the funniest moments weren't concealed in the trailer. When the end brings the usual heartwarming revelations between parent and child, you'll still be laughing at the route Cannon took to get there. Blockers is an original take on a well-known concept.

My biggest takeaway is simple. The mix of female directing with male screenwriting provided a balance that most comedies just don't have to can pull off. This is a perfect date night film because neither sex is belittled or treated like a punchline. Every joke has a hint of honesty attached to it, which makes the laugh last longer.

I went into Blockers wanting to laugh a lot after a couple days and the film provided me with the escapism medicine that I was craving. Nothing cures sadness like well-designed comedy. Blockers made me think about the impact that Amy Heckerling made with Clueless back in 1995. Cannon's work here makes me think her next film could be even better.

If you want to laugh a lot and see something original, check out Blockers, a comedy with initiative.

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