Blockers

This will be a relatively short post because there is on;y a little bit to say about this film. I had seen the trailer and thought that it was a raunchy comedy that I could safely skip. My wife had expressed a little interest but the butt chugging gag in the trailer was not promising. I’m going to blame the guys on one of the podcasts that I listen to for talking me into seeing this. They discussed it on one of their recent shows, and both of them thought it had some funny lines of dialogue. They were not impressed with the physical gags but thought there was a theme here worth looking at. Since I have been blocked myself [from seeing several other films until a certain member of the household was available] , it seemed right to give it a chance.

Indeed the film is raunchy. The parents act in some pretty stupid ways in their attempt to track down and stop their girls from making what they see as a mistake. There are three or four completely superfluous scenes that exist only for the humor and add nothing to the story. The aforementioned beer chugging sequence makes zero sense as soon as the parents identify themselves, but the contest goes on anyway. There is a car crash scene that gets laughed off, but of course in real life would entail huge consequences for those involved. The most extreme sections involve peeping into another home and catching the occupants engaged in some sexual activity. and then later returning to the same location, to break in, and ending up in a preposterous sex game which has nothing to do with the story. At least the sequence was honest enough to feature male frontal nudity rather than the traditional reveal of a nude woman. Gary Cole did his own reveal here and while it may not be my cup of tea, it was refreshing that the film treated men the way women are usually exploited.

One of the themes of the movie revolves around the sexist assumption that girls need to be treated differently in regard to their initiation into being sexually active. Indeed, that is a worthy goal but it is barely part of the story. First we have to have some version of naked “Sardines” with strangers, and then there has to be serial vomiting. The warm turn that the film takes in the last act is very typical of a teen film from the 80s or 90s. “Porkys”, “American Pie”, and “Clueless” all end up with more sincerity than you might expect. “Blockers ” turns into a family story with the adults and children learning to accept one another despite the flaws that all of them have. This is not exactly original, but it turns out kinda sweet anyway.

The older stars are adequately over the top. Jon Cena and Leslie Mann are the central figures and both play the parts as you expect. Mann is a neurotic mother with attachment issues and a whinny voice, who pushes things forward. Cena is an overprotective dad who sees his girl as a child, despite the fact he has nurtured her into being a successful athlete. Ike Barinholtz ends up stealing the film from the others by having the most comic payoffs to his dialogue and the story that has the most to say about trying to parent a child and ultimately succeeding.

So it is not a great film, it has a few good laughs but it is not original and if you are a sympathetic vomit-er, you might want to skip out on it. The sex issues seemed to bother the parents more than all the drinking and drug use that is part of the story. The girls are fine and their arcs play out pretty much the way they are telegraphed. This movie is not really made for me, I could tell by the soundtrack playlist which featured no music ever heard by a baby boomer. The next generation of teen comedies seems to be moving forward without a need to appease the older crowd. That seems an apt result given the storyline.

The Bronze

Here is a movie that tries too hard to be quirky and hip and only succeeds in being mildly annoying most of the time. The idea of lampooning Olympic athletes is not really new, neither is the vulgar language in the mouth of an otherwise seemingly innocent young woman. So the film turns up the shock value of the language and tries like hell to overwhelm you with how awful a person the lead character has become. The fact that some of the things being said could have been quotes from Billy Bob Thornton in “Bad Santa” doesn’t qualify it as comic genius.

The movie plays for the first half like a bad sketch on Saturday Night Live. You know, the one that had a funny premise for about a minute but actually ran seven to ten minutes. That’s this movie for the first hour. There finally appears to be a more traditional plot line in the last half that concerns love and redemption but it does not feel earned since we got so abused in the first part of the movie. Mean spirited insults and dry delivery might work in small doses if timed correctly, here they just swallow the movie up and puke it all over us.

Melissa Rauch from “The Big Bang Theory” plays the part as it was written and directed, so the outcome is not entirely her fault, except that she wrote the picture with her husband. There is a gem of an idea here but it takes more skilled hands to make it work than were brought to bear. There is not a project that I can think of that Gary Cole has not made better by his presence and this film is now included in that assessment. As the father of the lead character, he is both funny, ineffectual and too sadly real.

There are several laughs in the film but they are not as frequent as they should be and most of them depend on the vile things that are being done and said. If you are looking for a way to spend a really uncomfortable couple of hours, take your parents with you to see this. If you can get through the opening scene without them walking out, maybe the movie is for you. I sound like I hated it but that is far from the truth, I was just disappointed that it could not live up to it’s potential. There is however one scene that stands out and might make a trek to a theater to see this worthwhile. Two gymnasts get it on in a over the top sex scene and it involves all of the moves, bending, head and ass placement you may have been fantasizing about since you first had a crush on that guy or gal on your high school gymnastics team.  It is really dirty and really funny. Supposedly, Sebastian Stan did his own stunts for the movie, if that includes this scene, he will be a big heartthrob for the rest of his career.

This is a little movie with big aspirations of being a surprise comedy, but the surprise is how boring so much of the film is. I’m not a big rap fan myself, but I think the end credit rap performance by the star, had everything the movie offered, but in five minutes or less.