Blockers is the perfect summation of everything I find wrong with movies today. I’m sure most of you would jump in to say how Transformers 5 or The Emoji Movie would be a better fit for such a claim; I would argue that Blockers demonstrates how through shallow manipulation a giant turd such as this can “win” in the end. I can barely even begin to fathom where by the ten-minute mark I had begin to succumb to the existential dread of recognizing just how bad this film was going to be and sort of want to shut it off at that point had resonated with these critics to where it’s got an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and raving reviews on Indiewire and The Hollywood Reporter. So… where’s the disconnect?
The Characters are Obnoxious
You know a movie is brutal when I have to say John Cena is the best performance in this movie and that’s because he’s almost perfected stiff acting to have a certain charm to it. Cena has maybe a few moments in there that make you crack a smile like when he eats his daughter’s underwear out of the laundry (trust me it’s funnier without context) but again he’s playing against masculine stereotypes and that’s really it. Then Ike Barinholtz in it, he plays an annoying douchebag character that’s been in everyone of these comedy movies in recent years, he adds nothing new or special to this character type and you sort of just want to punch him in the face the whole movie. The last of the Blockers is Leslie Mann who’s the worst character in the movie. A lot of the Rotten Tomato reviews applaud this movie for having a female take the lead but how much does top billing really matter if your character is absolutely useless.
As much as Leslie Mann’s character is undoubtedly “the main character” there’s a lot of watching from the sidelines. There’s even reference that Cena took one for the team by sticking a funnel up his butt and Barinholtz even let himself get groped for them to complete their mission but what does Mann’s character do to progress the plot…… nothing. Really she only exists so that they can get the gold star for having a female protagonist and having the totally original plot of “I’m a mom who doesn’t want my daughter to leave for college”. The daughters are well performed but they’re characters are extremely onenote with nothing interesting about using that archetype you have sporty, typical, and gay.
I can’t tell you it’s not funny because humor is so subjective that it’s pointless arguing it, but I will say that Blockers is unapologetically low-brow. There’s almost no structure or rhyme or reason to it, it’s just hehe drugs, hehe sex, hehe butts. Again other critics say this film is “funny” and personally I just can’t get over how paper-thin the premises for the “jokes” are. If you don’t giggle at eggplant emoji means pee pee than I don’t think the movie puts it into any creative context to make that worth laughing over.
One of the frustrating things in film criticism and media is handing out participation trophies and no matter how the execution or quality of the film if you do a thing we like than we automatically positively affirm your movie. Blockers has a female director, so I should be extremely patronizing and instead of subjectively and objectively judging the film I should just praise that a major studio gave the a woman the honor of directing their impassionate dick and poop joke movie. I feel that literally felt that a monkey could have directed this movie it was so devoid of any visible personal style or direction so the yay! Female director parade takes away from Greta Gerwig, and Kelly Fremon Craig, and Claire Scanlon who actually made something of merit. I don’t even blame Blockers director as it feels that her female perspective narratives get hijacked by the writer’s lazy excuse for jokes.
I thought the lesbian angle was very insincere, like it was trying to capitalize on the recent trend and get Variety and Indiewire to write positive publicity articles about your progressive dick and poop joke movie… and it worked. I think it’s better than all the “retroactive” inclusion that people like to celebrate, it there in the open and that’s cool but I don’t think having flat stereotypical characters whose character motives and personalities are all just “gay” is worthy of a medal. There’s one character who gets a full scene to preach how sexist the premise of the movie is but it’s okay because we acknowledge that. It’s so obnoxious how a movie that makes no attempt to be anything more than the movie where John Cena chugs beer like an enema can get positive reviews by taking five minutes to pander to critics and have that work.
I somewhat recently reviewed Game Night and in that review I confessed that my movie pet peeve is comedy films featuring car stunt scenes. OF COURSE, THIS MOVIE HAS IT I’M SO SURPRISED! That’s honestly not that bad this movie might have the worst use of CGI I’ve seen in a film. So sporty girl takes some drug and then her eyes become like a snapchat filter and grow. It is equally terrifying as it is pointless it’s a one second thing but why would you put an effect worse than the Truth or Dare face affect randomly in your movie.
Unconventional Doesn’t Equate to Good
This film essentially has 6 main characters and spends equal time on their arcs and personal drama. It might be high regarded for an unconventional narrative structure but it’s not inventive it’s unfocused. The motives are particularly weak, and the end of each personal struggle is unsatisfying and bafflingly empty. Nobody really changes or learns anything through this journey and it seems that the writers and director were as apathetic to these characters as I was. I don’t see any reason for the specifics of the characters problems then a general “who can relate” shout out. This would be more excusable if it seemed to just be a constant joke generator plot but you can tell that they’re reaching for some meaningful commentary. I also love how it gets close to understanding millennial/youth culture but still feels like it’s from the perspective of an out of touch old man. Fedora’s, capes, vapes, and eggplant emojis are all specifics from youth culture today it also feels like:
Ending the Review
Blockers is both meaninglessly vapid while disingenuously posing as being meaningful and for the most part got away with it. I came in low expectations for the movie almost expecting next to nothing and still it fell well below those expectations.