The ‘sex-quest’ narrative in teen comedy has often involved a group of friends striving to lose their virginity before graduation. There are so many examples of this narrative from the male point-of-view, but hardly any from a female perspective, something which Kay Cannon seeks to rectify with her film Blockers.
Taking the set-up of American Pie, the film follows three childhood friends Julie (Kathryn Decker), Kayla (Geraldine Viswana) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) who all make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. Unbeknownst to them, their parents catch wind of this pact, leading to Julie’s mom (Leslie Mann) and Kayla & Sam’s dads (John Cena and Ike Barinholtz) to try and stop them.
On the surface, Blockers may not seem to be much of a progressive comedy, what with the parents seemingly taking on a position of denying their daughter’s the benefit of the doubt and trusting them to make their own decisions on their sexuality.
But what unfolds very much remains on the side of the young women at the centre of its plot. The three friends are given the space to have their own agency, to go out and have fun and make their own decisions around their sex lives. It is the parents whose actions are shown to be unreasonable, and they end up being the ones who receive the gross-out punishments that you come to expect from this kind of comedy.
It is through Julie, Kayla and Sam’s friendship and how they use their sex pact to explore relationships in their lives (in Sam’s case, confirming to herself what she’s begun to suspect about her own sexuality) that the film demonstrates an intelligence and sensitivity rarely seen in this subgenre of comedy.
There’s a greater level of awareness in Cannon’s film that makes it far more refreshing than most of its male-driven counterparts. This is largely down to its choice to navigate within a well-trodden narrative through the lens of young women exploring their sexuality. When such narratives prove to be as fresh and as emotionally intelligent as this, then there’s no excuse for future studio comedies not to explore even more perspectives moving forward.
Blockers is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray, and to stream on Google Play. HBO GO, and YouTube. Follow Blockers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the film’s website and follow Kay Cannon on Twitter.