Too often, teen sex comedies seem to write themselves. There’s a drunk montage, awkward bedroom scene and saccharine final act. Blockers does just about everything you’d expect in this regard but adds a winningly progressive extra layer.
It would be easy to refer to Blockers, the directorial debut of Pitch Perfect writer Kay Cannon, as merely a gender-swapped American Pie. Certainly, it’s a gross-out comedy in which teens make a sex pact and, sure enough, now it’s the girls who are the active agents. On the other hand, American Pie was never this endearing.
Being bezzies since their first day of school, Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) have a lot of shared history. When prom night dawns and graduation looms, there’s one thing that none of them have yet experienced, the aubergine Emoji that is sex. That’s a line that – disturbingly – makes sense in context.
Dreaming of a rose petal strewn bed and candle lit romance, the three conspire to make prom night their night and lose their respective virginities to: a boy next door, smirking dope and goof. What they hadn’t banked on was their terribly insecure parents – Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz – finding out and launching into a bonkers cock-blocking mission.
If Blockers’ premise chimes a familiar tune, it succeeds in doing so be virtue of new and refreshing notes. Whilst comedy value is boosted by the paralleling plots offering a pleasingly varied run of gags, high points here include one character coming to terms with their sexuality and another reaching a mature decision on her own ground. Add to the mix a brilliant monologue about the injustice of how society views a young woman’s virginity compared to a young man’s and you have a surprisingly empowering final result.
As first outings go, Cannon’s is a strong start – even if the writing circle is unnervingly all male – but the breakout, and one to watch, here is Viswanathan, whose assured comedy presence is winningly fizzy. She’ll go far that one.
As teen-sex-pact-comedies go, Blockers is witty, likeable and plenty of fun. It stands out, however, by virtue of its satirical underbelly.