COMEDY; 1hr 42min
STARRING: Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz
Cyber spies: from left, Cena, Mann and Barinholtz
At first glance, the Blockers premise, in which three Chicago high-school gfs make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night, comes off as stale and lame. But hold up! Julie (Kathryn Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) are so savvy, funny and self-aware that you’re instantly in their corner. And their parents, who spy on them via software, then band together to stop them throwing their lives away, yada yada yada, are something else, as well. Who wouldn’t pick Mann for their over-protective mama (she’s Julie’s), Cena as their weepy dad (Kayla takes that prize) and Barinholtz as Sam’s M.I.A. papa (who of course redeems himself along the way)?
In a night that starts out loopy, then loses it big time, the carbonated dialogue and express-paced direction from first-timer Kay Cannon never pause for breath. That’s all par for the fun-and-games course. Yet the thrill of the chase also has some wise and potent things to say about taking responsibility, the losses and fears inherent in getting older and how scary it is to let your grown children go.
Heavily handled, life lessons can be a fast trip to depression, but the last thing Cannon wants to do is bring anybody down. Her hard truths are never too hot to handle and a sugar-sprinkled resolution is always on the cards (along with the fine art of butt chugging, some icky projectile vomiting and tastefully stage-managed first-time sex). Par for the course, as well, you could say: sometimes Happily Ever After is the only way to play it.