Watching the prom night comedy Blockers, bawdy but delivered with a woman’s touch, makes you wonder if the Farrelly Brothers have a sister.
Or if Amy Heckerling has a daughter.
Such are the raunchy-sweet antics of director Kay Cannon’s Blockers, the story of three high school girls determined to hook up on prom night.
The movie is sexually candid and foulmouthed. If you applauded Walmart’s decision to ban Cosmopolitan magazine, this movie is definitely not for you.
Enemas are given. Vomiting becomes contagious. We see things we saw in There’s Something About Mary, and tried to forget.
All of that makes the movie sound like an updated Porky’s, but it’s a good deal smarter, and turns out to be focused, rather unexpectedly, on the midlife anxieties of prom night parents, who scan the internet, learn of a sex pact, and set out to disrupt it.
Wrestler-actor John Cena plays house husband Mitchell, who has only recently adjusted to finding thongs in the underwear drawer of his daughter (Geraldine Viswanathan) and goes full Taken when he finds out she’s part of the pact.
Lisa (Leslie Mann) eggs him on, but her desire to stop her daughter (Kathryn Newton) from having sex masks a deeper internal drama — she’s a single mom whose daughter’s impending departure to college will leave her without anchor or purpose.
The third wheel is Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), who joins the enterprise mostly to persuade the other two adults just how foolish it is. He has a poor track record as a father, and hopes to rectify that by helping his daughter (Gideon Adlon) avoid embarrassment.
His daughter, by the way, is in the closet, and hopes to find a way on prom night to break the news to her two best friends. This subplot is handled shrewdly — its attitude of inclusivity is underlined by the way Cannon delivers it, of a piece with the rest of the material.
The what’s-the-big-deal approach is disarming and effective. Blockers probably pushes its luck by its adding alcohol and drug abuse to its cocktail of teen sex, but the movie is sneaky safe — the young women are with boys who love and respect (and sometimes fear) them. Mostly what lurks around the edge of the action isn’t danger, but affection.
Also, the movie presents the girls’ behavior as a forum for debate, as two moms (Mann and Sarayu Blue) square off in a heated discussion about feminism and the culture’s view of sexually assertive women.
The movie equates female sexual freedom with empowerment. On the other hand, it warns that you wouldn’t want to be found in a hotel bed with John Cena’s daughter.
Blockers. Directed by Kay Cannon. With Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon and Geraldine Viswanathan. Distributed by Universal Pictures.
Running time: 102 minutes
Parents guide: R (language)
Playing at: area theaters