Film Review: BLOCKERS (USA 2018)

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Blockers Poster
Trailer

The title and film poster are a reference to cock blocking (the rooster icon is put on top of the film title BLOCKERS in the poster).  But the film is just entitled in one word – BLOCKERS.   I first heard of the term cock blocker in London.  The term is referred to as the guy who stands for the one to prevent a good looking gay guy from being picked up by a not-so-good looking guy.  The cock blocker usually says he is the good looking guy’s boyfriend or partner.  In the film the blockers are the parents (2 fathers and a mother) trying their best to prevent their daughters from losing their virginity on Prom night.

Despite what one might think is a premise for lots of high-jinx comedy, the film is surprisingly short of laugh-out loud laughs.  Director Kay Cannon wrote all three of the PITCH PERFECT films and as one can expect, a lot of the humour is physical.  The funniest of these is the ass chugging contest – but the idea is funnier than its execution.

A lot of jokes fall flat.  The running joke of bulked up Mitchell (Michael Cena) getting teary-eyed not only does not cut it, but used way too often.  The FAST AND FURIOUS joke is pitiful.  Adult parents are treated as bumbling idiots while the teens are supposed to be the wise ones who make all the right decisions and have the correct emotions.

But despite the relatively innocent title, the film turns out quite raunchy since it is co-produced by Masters of Mischief, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.  But more raunchy than funny, unfortunately.  Example are the naked sex scenes and the raunchy sex experiments of Mitchell’s ex and new boyfriend that are not that funny, not even the squeezing of Hunter’s balls.   More laughs are generated from the sly comments and smirk of one of the daughter’s dates, Connor (newcomer Miles Robbins). The film also suffers from having to go through the same incident three times, since there are three daughters and three parents.  Mitchell finds Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) having sex and has to deal with it.  Then, the audience has through a similar tiresome routine with the other two.

The tired script also goes through cliched territory of mother missing the daughter going away for college more than daughter missing the mother.  

Of the three parents, Hunter, played by Ike Barinholtz (he was the loud laughing clown in NEIGHBOURS 2) comes through as the funniest.  Reason is that he is the wildest card in the pack and given more free reign to do crazy things.  Leslie Mann could have been funnier, but not given much to do but to complain and worry.

The film most boring parts are the ones with the three daughters bonding.  One also wonders why their dates at the prom did not abandon them as they talk to each other more than to their dates.  There are a few, genuinely funny moments like the Korean student’s break dancing that always ends in disaster.  But these are few and far between.

The film aims at being politically current by having mixed couples like Mitchell and his wife and ex-wife with one of the daughters turning out to be gay.  But the comedy disappoints.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMDVa4yoCWw

 

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Film Review: The Comedian. Starring Robert DeNiro

the_comedian.jpgDirector: Taylor Hackford
Writers: Art Linson (screenplay), Jeffrey Ross (screenplay)
Stars: Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito

Review by Gilbert Seah

THE COMEDIAN is, as the title implies about the story of insult comedian Jackie (Robert De Niro) who once found fame as Eddie in the TV sitcom Eddie’s Home. Jackie is now surviving on low-paying gigs in New York City but his audience wants to remember the Eddie routines that Jackie hates to be remembered for.

The trouble starts when Jackie assaults a heckler at one of his performances resulting in him being sentenced to community service at a homeless food shelter. But Jackie meets a fellow community service server, Harmony (Leslie Mann) who he has a relationship with.

Director Taylor Hackord (AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, RAY, THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE) treats his star and the material with respect. It shows. THE COMEDIAN turns out to be a likeable, respectable film despite some very lewd humour.

As in movies about stand-up comedians that pays homage to stand-up comedians go, the film contains worthy cameos provided by the likes of Charles Grodin, Jimmie Walker and Oscar Winner Cloris Leachman. Danny DeVito and harvey Kietel also deliver memorable performances. The comic routines on film are also well written and funny – garnishing laugh-out loud laughs. The best of these is the banter carrying on between the Jewish lesbian comic on hand and De Niro.

De Niro, no stranger to comedy being in comedies like MEET THE PARENTS and THE FAMILY, proves in this film that he can also do stand-up and insult stand-up at that. He is winning in his performance and though unlikely to win him another Academy Award, it is a performance that invokes both sympathy and laughter. De Niro looks good (with his hair probably dyed) and fit, and believable as the late 60 year old that can still become a father.

Where the film (both script and direction) succeeds is the difficult yet successful blending of vulgarity and sincerity. This is witnessed for example, in the one wedding scene when Jackie’s performance both delights his niece and infuriates her mother, Flo (Patti LuPone).

The film is a drama comedy with more laughs than anything else. As one late critic said, a funny film will allow a multitude of faults to be overlooked. The script is smart enough not to include any messages or uncomfortable sex scenes, to include the effects of modern technology (like viral youTube videos) and hilarious stand-up routines in the film.
The best film about a comedian remains Martin Scorsese’s satirical THE KING OF COMEDY that happens also to star a younger Robert De Niro as a stalker of a famous comedian played by Jerry Lewis. THE COMEDIAN is a light drama, played for laughs rather than insight or satire. The film succeeds in its lesser aimed goal.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALlj3RRF9h8

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Happy Birthday: Leslie Mann (March 26)

lesliemannHappy Birthday to actress Leslie Mann.

See reviews of her best films:

The Cable guyThe Cable Guy
1996
dir. Ben Stiller
starring
Jim Carrey
Matthew Broderick

SHE'S THE ONEShe’s the One
1996
dir. Edward Burns
Starring
Mike McGlone
Cameron Diaz
Jennifer Aniston

ConstantineThe 40 Year Old Virgin
2005
dir. Apatow
starring
Steve Carell

KNOCKED UPKnocked Up
2007
dir. Apatow
Starring
Seth Rogen
Katherine Heigl

Drillbit Taylor
2008
Directed by Steven Brill
Starring
Owen Wilson
Nate Hartley
Troy Gentile

SHORTS Movie PosterShorts
2009
dir. Rodriguez
Starring
Jimmy Bennett
James Spader

FUNNY PEOPLEFUNNY PEOPLE
2009
dir. Apatow
Starring
Adam Sandler
Seth Rogan
Mann

17 AGAIN Movie Trailer17 Again
2009
dir. Burr Steers
Starring
Zac Efron
Matthew Perry