The Hippo


May 31, 2020








A Quiet Place

Blockers (R)
Three high school friends decide prom night will be, for each of them, The Big Night in Blockers, a surprisingly complex movie about female agency and romantic desire disguised as a raunchy comedy.
There’s also a look at a coming out experience, some rather thoughtful commentary about parenting, a nice bit about friendship and the idea that there are different ways to be a girl ― but also seven people in a limo puke all over each other. So, it’s a mix.
Parents Hunter (Ike Barinholtz), Lisa (Leslie Mann) and Mitchell (John Cena) met when their respective daughters ― Sam (Gideon Adlon), Julie (Kathryn Newton) and Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) ― first met on their first day of kindergarten. The three girls became besties, together for all the big moments of their lives. As prom night approaches, the girls discuss their plans. Julie, giddily in love with her boyfriend Austin (Graham Phillips), decides that prom night should be their first time having sex ― all candles, rose petals on their bed and slow dancing to their song. Kayla, clearly delighted at the end-of-senior-year break from her intense sports and academic schedule, decides to have an unspecial cut-loose first time with her prom date Connor (Miles Robbins), her man-bun-sporting lab partner with a talent for making pot-laced baked goods.
Sam decides to go for her first time too, though not out of any particular love for her date Chad (Jimmy Bellinger), a rando in a fedora, but more as a means of figuring out her feelings about boys in general. If she could bring herself to discuss the situation, including how the world goes sparkly for her every time she sees Angelica (Ramona Young), perhaps her friends would tell her that sex with Chad is not required for her to believe in her feelings for Angelica.
When the parents find out about “#sexpact2018” they go into full-on freaked-out squirrel mode, vowing to find the girls and, er, stop them. Somehow. (That second part of the plan is never all that fleshed out.)
Though Sam’s never come out to her dad, Hunter is pretty sure that Sam is gay and preventing her from doing something he’s pretty sure she doesn’t actually want to do is his justification for joining the other parents. Lisa’s claim is that she wants to prevent her daughter from becoming so attached to Austin that she puts her life on hold for him but in reality it’s probably more that an attachment to Austin might take Julie to a college far away from Lisa. Mitchell’s justification is the most retrograde, namely to “rescue” her. He apparently doesn’t realize that as a driven bad-ass (and probably thanks to an equally bad-ass mother, played by Sarayu Blue) she can say what she wants and doesn’t want just fine.
Actually all of these girls, each in their own way, are assertive and confident and able to make smart decisions for themselves. The girls are in some ways a parent’s most optimistic hope for how their teen will navigate the world, even as they make some bad choices (see above re: limo puking) and spend some moments doubting themselves. 
It’s the parents, of course, who are truly at sea, mostly because of variations on a fear about what will become of them when they aren’t day-to-day parenting their daughters anymore. That parents must let their children stand more and more on their own as they age, let them do things you might not agree with and eventually let them go live their lives is totally natural and normal and horrifying and excuse me while I look for the Kleenex, shut up, you’re crying. As much as the movie spends a lot of time with the girls and their prom night, this really feels less like a “teen comedy” than a “parent comedy,” with the real coming of age happening to the parents who are graduating to a new phase in their lives. Much as the girls are all different versions of a strong young woman, Mann, Barinholtz and Cena are all different versions of caring but confused and somewhat heartbroken parents. The movie caters to each actor’s comic strengths, giving Barinholtz the weirder bits, Mann the more high-energy highjinks and Cena material that plays either with or against his physicality. The movie and the comedy are, for me, strongest when these characters and their own feelings about this milestone are the focus. B
Rated R for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying, and some graphic nudity. Directed by Kay Cannon and written by Brian Kehoe and Jim Kehoe, Blockers is an hour and 42 minutes long and distributed by Universal Studios. 

A Quiet Place (PG-13)
Film reviews by Amy Diaz


A family can stay safe in a world menaced by deadly (but blind and non-smell-sensitive?) monsters only as long as it can stay silent in A Quiet Place, a solid suspense movie that shows off the equally solid directing chops of John Krasinski.
We get an early look at what can happen when a noise gives away a person’s location in this world of abandoned towns and overgrown roads and so we understand why Lee (Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt, who is married to Krasinski in real life) are so careful about only walking on the sand trails around their farm that soften the sound of their footsteps. They communicate with each other and their children, Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and Marcus (Noah Jupe), via sign language and have seemingly soundproofed all aspects of their life, eating their dinner off big kale leaves and playing board games with felt pieces. When accident does cause sound, no matter how small, it’s an emergency that swiftly brings the three monsters that prowl in their rural area.
In some ways, this family is uniquely able to weather this kind of apocalypse. They can all speak sign language, which we assume is the result of Regan’s pre-apocalypse deafness. She has a cochlear implant but it isn’t working and one of Lee’s pastimes is trying to fix it. Their home – which appears to be in a farming community surrounded by healthy ponds and forests – has acres of corn, a grain silo tall enough to serve as kind of a lighthouse to other farms and a root cellar needed for storing canned produce and hiding when noise brings the monsters. 
And sound is about to become an unavoidable issue in the family. As we catch up with the family about a year and a half after the end of modern society, we see that Evelyn is pregnant. Even if she is somehow able to make it through labor without making a sound, how will they keep the baby quiet?
This movie’s core story hangs together well, even if I had some questions that the movie never quite answers. (Such as: How do you farm in silence? Have Lee and the neighbors ever thought of getting together to kill one of the monsters? If there are only three in the area, getting rid of even one would seem like a victory.) I heard a critic on the Little Gold Men podcast describe the movie as being one that really digs into the emotions of parental anxiety and I heartily agree. This movie gives the extreme  version of parents’ efforts to prepare for all forms of danger and to safeguard their kids by “doing everything right.” If you do everything right, so the magical thinking goes, always apply the sunscreen and make sure your plastic items have no BPA, your kids will be safe. Here, it’s noiseless pathways and soft toys but the impulse (and the occasional sense of futility) is the same. Not surprisingly, Krasinski and Blunt have excellent chemistry and do a good job at creating characters who can communicate these emotions, frequently with just a look. Simmonds, who is deaf in real life according to media reports, is equally well cast and is good at conveying her complex emotions with the way she signs, not just the translations we’re reading in subtitles.
And I agree with the praise this movie has received for its use of “silence” as part of its story. Smart decisions were made with sound in this movie as well — when to use it, how to use it, when to use silence, when to use a musical score, when to let us hear the world from a specific character’s perspective. Sound could have been gimmicky here but it always feels natural to what the movie is conveying in each scene.
A Quiet Place is the kind of horror movie that you don’t have to be really into horror to enjoy, one that scares you with situations and emotions rather than gore and one that wisely has us in a constant state of fear but only sprinkles in a few shots of the monsters. A-
Rated PG-13 for terror and some bloody images, according to the MPAA. Directed by John Krasinski with a screenplay by Bryan Woods & Scott Beck and John Krasinski, A Quiet Place is an hour and 30 minutes long and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

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