I’ve been told that the difference between a film and a movie is that one is art and the other is capitalisms imitation of art. This was, of course, a movie, but it was a damn funny movie.
John Cena, Leslie Mann, and Ike Barinholtz star as the trio who chase their daughters around in a raunchy but rousing story that interrogates sex, teens, and societal expectations surrounding the two. After discovering a sex pact between their three daughters via an opened Messages app on a Mac, the hilarious trio embarks to stop their senior-year girls from sexual womanhood. Girls to be protected from the world, the movie turns the over-protectiveness of the parents into a satire lampooning conservative sexual ethos, ending with some sex, drugs, and chastity wound together to create a gender-swapped epic of a sexual comedy.
Fake “wokeness” (a term that now means being aware of one’s societal and cultural surroundings) permeates the movie, stopping it from achieving its full potential as a critique of societal expectations surrounding sex. Rather than sex-positive, the movie pushes that sex for teens is fine, but only in a committed relationship. Casual sex might be fun and funny, but in the ethos of Blockers, sex should be reserved for those in a committed relationship. References to the different treatment of men and women surrounding the issue of sex intertwine with repetition of expected values while inverting the language used to try to stick with the “aware” gender-swapped theme. Take Graham Phillip’s character Austin, who is at once told that sex will turn him into a man while simultaneously using the feminine term of “flower” for his virginity: traditional sexual values are guilded to woke with post-feminist language.
Perhaps most damningly, however, one of the movie’s funniest scenes is also its most problematic. The trio break into Austin’s house to steal his parents’ phone, which he has texted throughout the night to keep his parents in the know about what the teen is up to. Cena and Barinholtz are then brought into the sexual game of the parents, who are naked, blindfolded, and looking for each other silently. As the two are trapped and the couple moves towards them, they shed clothing and play along, pretending to be the partners’ bodies to keep their presence unknown. As hands touch genitals without fully-knowledgeable consent, sexual assault turned comedy dashes this movie’s chance at true cultural criticism or even the chance to be a true film. In the post-MeToo moment, Hollywood is getting closer to a sexual revolution but has yet to reach the mark.
This critic gives it 3 out of 5 stars and would gladly see it again. A laugh’s a laugh, but don’t expect cultural criticism from this blockbuster comedy.