Regardless of the generation one constant that will never change is that parents will be parents and kids will be kids - no matter how close your relationship. Parents give, give, give for 18 years and all they expect in return is total and absolute control over their kids' lives. Which seems like a fair deal to the adults at least.
It's a problem facing Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon), three girls who have been best friends since meeting in kindergarten and are now preparing for prom. With college round the corner they decide to mark this new chapter in their life by making a pact to lose their virginity at some point during the night.
At first their parents, clingy single mum Lisa (Leslie Mann), soft-hearted lump of muscle Mitchell (John Cena) and outcast of the circle, Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), are oblivious to the plan until they stumble open Julie's open laptop that reveals a group chat discussing their sex pact coded in emojis. Denial is quickly followed by shock before they hatch a plan to stop their kids making what they believe will be the biggest mistakes of their lives.
And so goes director Kay Cannon's comedy caper, swiftly pulling the rug from under the bro-coms and placing not just parental fears but societal concerns at the centre; don't say it too loud but teenage girls like and think about having sex too. We've been subjected to horny young dude films for decades now and it's high-time we had a new perspective and a few feathers were ruffled.
The families all live in the usual immaculate houses in middle class neighbourhoods but there's at least a healthy mixture of different cultures and backgrounds regularly shown onscreen, along with a sub-plot around Sam's sexuality. To Cannon's credit, none of it feels forced and this inclusive approach feels as organic as the vast majority of the gags.
As the girls move from one party spot to the next unaware their parents are hunting them down, it’s the adults that end up embarrassing themselves rather than their daughters. One of the key points made by Cannon is that while most teenagers want to experiment with booze, drugs and sex up to a point, they also mostly know where to draw the line and when it’s time to start growing up too.
The same can’t be said for the hapless trio of parents who trap themselves into a night of chaos trying to control their own fears rather doing what’s right for their kids. Mann, Barinholtz and Cena mostly get the tone right for their respective roles, with Cena probably the biggest surprise of all, turning in a goofy comic performance that belies his bulky presence. All the years spent hamming it up in the wrestling world seems to have served him well. On the girls' side, Geraldine Viswanathan really stands out and throws down her comedic chops with real gusto.
While never roll-on-the-floor funny, Blockers remains consistently amusing, and a few more belly laugh moments might have made this a sex comedy to remember. Although Cannon attempts to round out the humour with some heart, the emotional core always feels half-empty and a little tacked on. Apart from the eye-rolling gross out scene in the middle, this is mostly good fun and looks set to become a rare cross-generational hit that makes a good stab at levelling out the comedy playing field.