Blockers gives teen sex comedies a gender-swap spin

The raunchy bro comedy, with its high school jocks, nerdy virgins and busty cheerleaders, was once guaranteed box-office gold - but the trope has become an anachronism in post-Harvey Weinstein Hollywood.

A riotous new movie featuring a group of empowered girls, rather than the usual clique of sex-starved boys, is proving that you can do gross-out teen sex romps without homophobia or misogyny.

Opening here on April 19 and rated M18, Blockers, the directorial debut of three-time Emmy nominee Kay Cannon, who wrote the Pitch Perfect movies, tells the story of three overprotective parents who stumble upon their daughters' pact to lose their virginity at prom.

Played by Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena, the trio launch a covert operation to stop the teens from sealing the deal.

Geraldine Viswanathan, who plays Kayla, the daughter of Cena's hapless dad Mitchell, said: "We've had R-rated raunchy sex comedies before, but it's never really been from this female perspective, with three young women at the forefront and Kay Cannon behind the camera.

"It couldn't be better timing. It's really exciting and I'm so proud to be part of a movie that's funny and that I think so many people will enjoy, but that also has a lot of heart and is very reflective of now."

She teams up with Kathryn Newton - last seen as the murdered daughter in the award-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - and Gideon Adlon, who play her best friends Julie and Sam.

Adlon said that although the film was made before the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, she felt it was "pretty special" to be in a film reflecting the zeitgeist.


"Three young women making their own decisions about their bodies and what they want to do with their bodies, not what the men want... how much more timely could you get with that?" she said. "It also touches on LGBTQ and a bi-racial family in the film. So you've got everything in there, and we're normalising it."

Quite how much gender-equity kudos can be handed to a movie written and largely produced by men is up for debate, but a girl-centric teen comedy that respects its female characters remains a genuine novelty.

Reviews have been effusive, yielding an 83 per cent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The US$21 million (S$27.5 million) production opened at the North American box office with US$21.4 million, performing above industry expectations. - AFP