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Behind the Screen: Easy Laughs in “Blockers”

 

Although it was released earlier in April, Blockers has still been screening as of this week. I believe the reason it has lasted so long in theatres lies not in the quality of the writing or the filmmaking. It’s because this is an easy comedy to watch in the midst of harrowing blockbusters, serialized action films and tearjerker dramas. Blockers is a collection of comedic moments relatable to anyone who ever attended high school in the U.S. – and that includes moments of totally gross humor, dumb jokes and bizarre situations. The characters are easy to laugh with and it doesn’t take much mental energy or emotional investment to watch – the epitome of escapism.

Some of the scenes are so off-color that they will offend those who are more conservative or squeamish. However the movie is based on a reality that actually takes place in the environment of dorm or frat parties; young adults test the limits of their newly found freedom, as does a 3 year-old who gleefully tries to swallow a ping pong ball primarily because that’s a forbidden act. Most of you probably tried something pretty gross as a teenager too.

There has been criticism that some of the unsettling humorous scenes went too far. Perhaps these moments are disgusting. However there are many more dangerous and horrific things portrayed on film that are actually deemed acceptable by today’s audiences.

The only problem I had with Blockers is a criticism I have with many comedies – too much improvisation in passages that go on way too long. Good comedy is a highly skilled art that needs to be honed to perfection. Sometimes comedians have a tendency to be so self-enamored when a funny scene is working that it’s left to go on until the momentum is long gone. It’s unfortunate not to perfect and edit a comedy until it flows with a sharp snappy rhythm and has its audience rolling in the aisles. I’ll always hold a comedy to that level.

I didn’t feel that the cast jelled as an ensemble. However, the individual performances by the young actors in the film are superb. Gideon Adlon as “Sam,” Geraldine Viswanathan as “Kayla,” Graham Phillips as “Austin,” Kathryn Newton as “Julie,” and Jimmy Bellinger as “Chad,” are all wonderful and we should see more of them in the future. Comedy veterans Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz are always funny. In this film, though, they would have done better with more direction.

All in all, Blockers is great fun and a good date film (unless your date is squeamish). However it cannot compare with the nonstop mile-a-minute hilarity of films such as There’s Something About Mary, Wedding Crashers or even the more recent Game Night.

Rated R, 102 Minutes, Released April 6

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica.

 

 

 

 

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