SXSW 2018 Review: BLOCKERS

By Liz Lopez                                             

Rating: B-

This year’s SXSW Film Festival offered several films in the Headliners category to choose from and this includes “Blockers” from Universal Pictures, the highly anticipated comedy featuring both established and new actors to the genre. Females take the lead roles here, from Leslie Mann (“The Comedian,” “How to be Single”) to three emerging actresses establishing a name for themselves in comedy – Kathryn Newton (“Lady Bird”), Geraldine Viswanathan (“Miracle Workers,” TV series) and Gideon Adlon (“American Crime”).

The premise of an individual losing their virginity in feature films has been around for a very long time and “Blockers” is another to add to the long list. Director Kay Cannon (writer for “Pitch Perfect,” writer and producer on “30 Rock”) is working from a script by Brian Kehoe and Jim Kehoe (“Overachievers”). Considering the two individuals who wrote the screenplay do not have that many writing credits to their name, they have created some smart dialogue for the three teen leads and their parents. Cannon’s lengthy history of working as a writer in the genre uses her knowledge and vision to enhance the script, guide the actors and action to be more humorous than it probably would have been. As much as this basic story could have been stereotypical and/or predictable, the adult’s behavior as delivered very well by Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz is what really keeps this story engaging. A couple of scenes I was not expecting are by Gary Cole (“Small Crimes,” Chicago Fire, Veep) who portrays the father of another young teen played by Graham Phillips (“Riverdale,” “The Good Wife”). This really amps up the humor!

Meet the parents: John Cena’s Mitchell is very concerned about his daughter, Kayla (Viswanathan), who isn’t quite ready to admit she is no longer a child and doesn’t need him as much anymore. Lisa (Mann) raised Julie (Newton) on her own and is super close to her, almost too close and afraid of the distance between them when her daughter goes to college. Heaven forbid Julie make the “mistake” she did in her younger years. Hunter (Barinholtz) is distanced from his daughter Sam (Adlon) after his divorce from her mama, so although he portrays not being concerned about the prom night activities, he has his moments in the film that tell us otherwise.

The casting is very well done for this film and includes the actors who are the prom dates, aside from Austin (Phillips). Jimmy Bellinger is excellent as Chad, pudgy and cute in his hat; to Miles Robbins as Connor (aka, the Chef) portraying a character who can’t be missed and you would really want to hang out with more – adults or teens. I look forward to seeing him in more films. Ramona Young portrays Angelica and Sam makes a decision about whom and what she wants to pursue.

This film is R-rated, has a running time of 102 minutes and will be in theaters April 6, 2018.

Source: Universal Pictures

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