Parenting is a complete panorama of emotions and experiences. Some are delightful, like your child’s first step or the beauty of the way your child’s mind creates, cares, and collaborates; others are more problematic, like the first time they are hurt, the first time they hurt someone else, and the first time they reject you. In Universal’s comedy Blockers, the moment arrives for three parents when they recognize their children are about to have sex. Will it be beautiful or terrifying?
Kay Cannon (who wrote the Pitch Perfect films as well as New Girl and 30 Rock) directs a motley crew of actors as parents and their teenage daughters. Leslie Mann’s single mother Lisa Decker watches over Julie (Kathryn Newton), who floats the idea of losing her virginity on prom night to her friends, jock Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and quiet nerd Sam (Gideon Adlon). As the two other high school seniors consider following Julie into sex, their parents, Kayla’s father Mitchell (John Cena) and Sam’s absentee father Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), reunite with Julie for the pre-prom party. Then, the trio of adults discover the sex pact as their daughters pull away in the Hunter-provided limo.
Springing into action, Cena’s overprotective man bear tells the other two they must go stop their daughters from having sex. He’s no fan of Kayla’s date (Miles Robbins) and doesn’t think he’s worthy of his daughter’s virginity, while Lisa thinks that Julie’s outing with her boyfriend Austin (Graham Phillips) will ruin Julie’s chances at the University of Chicago (even though she really wants to go to UCLA) . Hunter doesn’t want Lisa or Mitchell to ruin Sam’s chances of having fun on prom night – and he’s not worried about her having sex with her date, because he knows Sam is gay.
While the daughters are wrestling with how to have the perfect prom night, their parents are having their own issues – encountering other adults in, delicate, situations and finding themselves in situations of their own, like when Cena’s Mitchell ends up outsmarted by a couple of frat boy types. Many of the gags have been done before – Sam’s response to getting high is comical, and gag-worthy in its own right – but most of them seem about playing off of Cena’s Superman-like persona and flipping it into the most effeminate version of Cena, ever.
Without giving too much away, I have to admit that the funny parts didn’t light up my funnybone but the parental struggle is real! How do we work through the things that matter to us, the lines in the sand that we’re unwilling to cross and the times we have to make a stand for what we believe when it comes to our children? When do we protect them from making mistakes and when do we let them make mistakes so that they can learn from them? What do we choose to control about their lives and what do we learn to let go of, recognizing that we can’t really control them anyway?
I don’t know a lot of Proverbs (which some might say is strange for a pastor) but this one has stuck with me (Proverbs 22:6): “Train up a child in the way he/she should go: and when he/she is old, he /she will not depart from it.” We might not all agree on all of the ways a child should go but we have to choose what we believe is right, and noble, and worthwhile – and teach it to our children. In my opinion, it’s ultimately the most important thing we’ll ever do – and each child gets to choose for themselves whether they’ll follow those things or not. If we don’t teach them, how will they ever hear?
The truth is that we have to teach, model, and show – and then let go.
Special features on the Blu-ray combo include the gag real, the “Line-o-rama” (for laughs after the take), deleted scenes, and a prom’s worth of special features. There’s a look at how to make the night look like “Prom Night,” Barinholtz’s “History of Sex,” the unfortunate Cena scene unpacked in “Chug! Chug! Chug!”, a bit of puke in “Puke-a-Palooza” as I referenced earlier, and “Rescue Mission,” which actually gets into surviving some parental mistakes, although your car probably won’t blow up.