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  Blockers Parent Panic
Year: 2018
Director: Kay Cannon
Stars: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon, Ramona Young, Graham Phillips, Miles Robbins, Jimmy Bellinger, Colton Dunn, Sarayu Blue, Gary Cole, Gina Gershon, June Diane Raphael, Hannibal Buress
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Lisa (Leslie Mann) is a single mother who brought up her daughter Julie (Kathryn Newton) alone, and is therefore very protective towards her, and so is Mitchell (John Cena) towards his pride and joy Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), often to the brink of tears when she achieves something, or anything really. Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) on the other hand is a disaster of a parent, having divorced the mother of his offspring Sam (Gideon Adlon) and rarely been there for the girl no matter how tough a time she has been having. But these three teenagers have been friends since they met on the first day of school, and they are planning something special for prom, to do separately yet together...

The poster of Blockers told you everything you needed to know, since before the name was a silhouette of a cockerel, or cock if you wanted to be blunt. Yes, this was the one all about three parents who are so controlling that they cannot bear to think about the prospect of their daughters losing their virginity on prom night and are about to go to ridiculous lengths to prevent this happening. As this was from the producing team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who conjured up a big turn of the millennium hit with Superbad, you might have anticipated more of the same: relentlessly crude dialogue and situations allied to a sentimentality about leaving adolescence.

Well, there was a major element of that, but though this was taken from a screenplay penned by two men, Brian Kehoe and Jim Kehoe, the director was Kay Cannon, comedy screenwriter extraordinaire with experience ranging from classic sitcom 30 Rock to the Pitch Perfect series, and her humorous fingerprints were all over how this unfolded. For a start, it wasn't as uptight about sex as the three parents were and accepted that girls would be as curious as boys, but nevertheless was aware that a certain amount of protection had to be present so that nothing gets out of hand, even as it spoofed the attitudes of its trio of hapless stooges to the impulsive plans of the girls.

Although as this progressed there was a streak of sentimentality that started fairly substantially and proceeded to extend to around a mile wide by the finale, Cannon was keen to convey the message, parents cannot dictate every aspect of their offspring's lives, especially as they grew older and got to the age where they started making their own decisions, and that was only going to land if it was accompanied by what amounted to worst case scenarios. Not for the girls so much, nothing truly awful happens to them other than a bit of embarrassment and sick-covered dresses, but the three leads were truly put through the wringer, emotionally and physically as they pursued them across the night, their misplaced concern (or horror) dropping them in all sorts of messes that showed them up for the buffoons they were.

Cannon had a good handle on how to pitch the performances from her cast, so nobody was some crass stereotype but someone you could believe existed, even down to the smaller supporting roles, and it was with the three stars that she truly excelled. They had great chemistry in a manner that was not often seen; yes, the teen sex comedies from the seventies and eighties were what their generation had grown up with, but this was something both that age group and their children, assuming they were old enough, could appreciate, if not necessarily together (there was a lot testing the threshold of embarrassment). This would have counted for little, good intentions and all, had the jokes not been funny, but sympathetic playing across the board left this often uproariously hilarious unless your sense of humour was on the prudish side. True, it did get bogged down in schmaltz, but these were likeable people no matter their ludicrousness, or maybe because of it, and it was a warmhearted mood indulged in. Amusing and gently progressive enough to overlook its heavyhanded elements. Music by Mateo Messina.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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