Successful gross-out comedies are getting tougher to make, maybe because they’re now just as easily found on TV as at the cineplex. Filmgoers have seen so many of those comic situations, it’s as if scatological references are coming out of their ... ears.
But maybe there’s life in the genre, after all. Marketers of Universal’s new Blockers, which premieres April 6, are giving a careful push to the comedy starring Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and WWE muscleman John Cena. They play three neighbors who realize their three daughters intend to lose their virginity on prom night, and set out to block it. Hence, the title.
The studio partnered with CollegeHumor.com and will stage all-day site “takeovers” April 1 and 2 to promote it and a new short video starring Cena. CollegeHumor says its monthly reach across owned and social platforms is 120 million.
“Our partnership with Universal Pictures spans many creative content collaborations, because they know our brand of irreverent humor is the perfect way to reach their targeted moviegoing audience — especially for a film like Blockers.” said Thom Woodley, the executive creative director and head of branded content at CollegeHumor, in an e-mailed statement.
This movie is already getting good buzz, reminiscent of sex-joke and body-fluid classics from earlier smutty times.
After its successful pre-release screening at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this month, an IndieWire reviewer gushed that director Kay Cannon’s “inspired” movie, with a feminist spin, is “a woke American Pie for the text message age.” Variety calls it “deliriously raunchy,” comparing Blockers favorably to 2011’s Bridesmaids for its “gender-flipping frankness.”
If that kind of press might lure female audiences, marketers may be attempting to appeal to men with a three-minute video on CollegeHumor featuring hunky Cena.
In this one, he appears as the massive wall of flesh who appears whenever a “Blockr” app summons him to help them avoid/escape someone.
“It’s the only app,” the phony ad exclaims, “that sends large person and expert blocker John Cena to position himself between you and the person or thing you desire blockage from.”
Weirdly, it’s a play on the movie’s name, but not remotely connected to the plot of the film. But it turns out it’s not that weird. Before Universal released Get Out last year, CollegeHumor and the studio worked on a short video, Bad at Parties, starring Get Out star Allison Williams making every faux pas a person can make at a surprise party. It got 1.5 million views and more than 30,000 engagements. Like the video for Blockers, this short clip has nothing to do with the film, but has a faint echo of the general theme. (It would seem Blockrs has an even fainter connection.)
“The core of this idea is that this app sends not just anybody, but specifically the famously large star of the film,” says a spokesman. “It’s a way for John and the movie to reach the audience on multiple relatable levels.”