But How Gay is ‘Blockers’?

In “But How Gay Is It?”, we seek to answer the biggest questions you have about a new movie release in theaters now including, most crucially, the titular question. Does the movie have any queer characters? Are there stories involving same-sex lovers? Which gay icons star in the film? We’re bringing you all that and more.

What is Blockers?

Imagine having a child, raising them, sending them off to their senior prom, and then finding out that they and their friends are all planning on having sex for the first time that night. Ideally, you’d be sex-positive and a good parent. What’s wrong with having sex, after all? And you raised them right. But as parental panic sets in, you start thinking crazy. You have to stop them. You have to go to their prom and stop them from doing what they’re doing. You have to follow them around all night, from afterparty to afterparty, until you can talk to them.

That, my friends, is the story of Blockers, the most relatable broad comedy you’ll see this year.

Who’s in it?

Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, and John Cena play parents Lisa, Hunter, and Mitchell, respectively. Considering these performers are best known as supporting players in comedies, from The 40-Year Old Virgin to The Mindy Project to Sisters, it’s fun to them as leads in this story. Their daughters are played by three charming young actresses: Kathryn Newton (Lisa’s daughter Julie), Geraldine Viswanathan (Mitchell’s daughter Kayla), and Gideon Adlon (Hunter’s daughter Sam). There’s a stacked supporting cast, too, but these six get the bulk of the screentime.

Why should I see it?

‘Tis the year of the surprisingly smart broad comedy. Though I’d give the edge to the sharp-as-a-knife Game Night, Blockers is similarly clever, with a lot of really great dialogue and character development. Plus, it’s incredibly funny. Studio movies are really upping their game in 2018!

But how gay is it?

Shockingly gay. While all three girls make a pact to have sex, one of their paths is blocked by a particularly difficult element: Hunter’s daughter Sam is gay. She’s still coming to terms with it a bit, but between her lack of interest in her date, Chad, and her crush on class quirky girl Angelica, it seems obvious. Particularly impressive in this is how Hunter takes it: He knows instinctively that his daughter is a lesbian, and not for one second judges her. When she does finally talk with him about it, it’s an incredibly sweet, earnest scene.

On a lighter note, there’s one moment that involves Mitchell’s hesitation to touch another man’s balls. (It makes more sense in context.) Just a few years ago, this would’ve been a typical “I’m not gay” panic scene. Instead, in the heat of the moment, Hunter immediately calls out Mitchell as homophobic and it turns into an “I’m not a homophobe” panic scene instead. It’s silly, but it’s nice to see we’re moving away from fear of being gay and toward fear of being seen as anti-gay. Progress! It gets better! Love wins!

Is this a Neighbors 2 situation, where everyone says the movie is feminist but it’s actually still pretty retrograde?

Thankfully, no! Not only does Blockers talk the talk, with smart messaging and surprisingly deep character development for both its adult and teen casts, it also walks the walk by being Pitch Perfect scribe Kay Cannon’s directorial debut. There aren’t any visual dynamics in the script it’s still a broad comedy but Cannon gets some terrific work out of her performers, particularly Newton, Viswanathan, and Adlon.

There’s still the problem of a screenplay written by men (Brian and Jim Kehoe), but the amount of insight and nuance it brings to a broad sex comedy about teen girls leads me to believe a) the Kehoes did their homework, and b) Cannon likely helped bring out some of the best material. The result isn’t a perfect film, but it’s one that seems to take every chance to be smart.

Who’s the MVP of the cast?

Honestly kind of a toss-up. When you’ve got Gina Gershon showing up in a bit role (as another kid’s mom), you know it’s a fucking stacked cast. But I’ll go with Mann, who carries the burden of being the lead with tremendous strength. She has to play both the comedy and the most emotional material, sometimes within seconds of each other one extended escape sequence stands out as remarkable and she does it with aplomb. She’s been a supporting player in so many of these comedies, it’s a delight to see her take the reins and have a blast.

Is there visible dick in this movie?

Yes, but not from the most expected source. (It is not Cena’s dick. Apologies to all the Cenaphiles out there.)

Blockers is in theaters now.


 

Kevin O'KeeffeKevin O'Keeffe

Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer and 'RuPaul's Drag Race' herstorian. He covers film and TV for INTO, and writes the movie review column "But How Gay Is It?" every Friday.

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