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With "Blockers," Kay Cannon hopes to make world-weary teens laugh

Just in time for prom season comes “Blockers,” the directorial debut for Kay Cannon, known for her writing and producing roles on NBC’s long-running “30 Rock” series. Filmed in and around Atlanta, the R-rated comedy hits theaters on Friday.

“I hope people laugh really hard,” Cannon said during a quick interview the other day. “I think we need it, now more than ever.”

Her past work here includes “Pitch Perfect 3,” on which she was one of the screenwriters. “Blockers” also concerns a determined group of young women, only instead of a cappella contests, these teens are determined to have sex on prom night. Their parents’ efforts to thwart the plans inspired the movie’s title; make of what you will the rooster logo.

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“I’m a parent so I relate to that side,” she said of the parents played by Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz, who engage in outrageous antics in their attempts to rein in their kids.

Cannon read the “Blockers” script while on vacation and immediately accepted the offer to direct, eager to spotlight self-assured young women on the big screen.

“I hope young women see themselves as they are,” she said.

And she hopes teens who have been at the forefront of the national movement to address gun violence in high schools will find their way to the cinema this weekend.

“They’re just kids. They should be focused on, ‘What am I wearing to prom, where am I going to go to college?’” she said, referring to the Parkland, Fla., high school students and their allies mourning classmates killed in the Feb. 14 shooting spree and demanding reform. “With everything happening — school shootings, activism, I would love if they’d be able to see this movie and take some time off to laugh.”

Cannon, who appeared in the charming 2013 indie “The Little Tin Man” starring Atlanta actor Aaron Beelner in the central role, started working on “Blockers” while wrapping up “Pitch Perfect 3.” Her demanding work schedule left just enough free time to explore Atlanta a little.

“The food is so great in Atlanta,” she said. “I had my best girlfriends come out. We went to the (Georgia) Aquarium. I lived in East Atlanta next to a playground my daughter still talks about.”

Her daughter turns 5 this fall, so Cannon has a few more years before she needs to confront prom night as the parents in her latest film do.

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Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for