‘A PG-friendly American Pie told from the perspective of the parents’
Directed by: Kay Cannon
Starring: Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena, Hannibal Buress, June Diane Raphael, Kathryn Newton, Gary Cole
Three girls, Julie (Kathryn newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam (Gideon Adlon) all decide that the prom night will be their night to lose their virgininty and communicate this via a group message en route to the prom; a group message seen by Kayla’s dad, Mitchell (John Cena, Daddy’s Home 2), Julie’s mother, Lisa (Leslie Mann) and Sam’s dad, Hunter (Ike Barinholtz, Bright), who decide upon themselves that they must gate-crash the prom to prevent their daughters from making this mistake.
As it sounds, it’s a PG-friendly American Pie told from the perspective of the parents. Like all American comedies of late, though, it cannot simply have the prom be the main location for everything to take place and instead we journey from building to building as the prom seems to be moving quite regularly from the school-supplied building to parties at homes, and along the way Lisa, Hunter and Mitchell all bicker and argue over their parenting skills. It’s clichéd and it’s paint-by-numbers but it’s funny. John Cena excels in these roles, which is impressive considering his size could easily see him land action film after action film, and he plays the frightening looking yet emotional father excellently. Ike Barinholtz gives the usual performance of a father who wasn’t there for his children (can Americans make films about fathers without this trope popping its head in) and Leslie Mann is fine as a single mother, but it does feel like they’ve substituted characters for stereotypical characteristics at times.
The girls, too, have their characteristics overtake their dialogue; as Julie is in the serious relationship so wants to take it to the next level, Kayla is a sports-obsessed girl who just wants sex and Sam is a sexually-confused girl forcing herself on a date with a boy. Comedies with so much more character build are so rare in today’s American comedy scene but they’re so worth it when they arrive, as we can almost recount everything about this film by simply knowing their characteristics. But, as frustrating as that is, the film does have its moments. Mitchell having to insert a beer tube . . . somewhere . . . is hilarious (as is most of the stuff Cena does in this film purely because of his facial reactions) as is the sex scenes between Austin’s parents. Its purpose is to make people laugh, and it succeeds. I never felt truly invested in the characters, or why they were constantly on the move despite it being their prom, but I laughed when the film wanted me to laugh so I suppose it did its job.
Personal: * * * Acting: * * * Writing: * * * Presentation: * * *