As the film goes out of its way to explain to us, the title of the new guy-centric relationship dramedy That Awkward Moment refers to that strange halfway point between a casual hook-up and a real romance. But it's also an accurate description of the movie's content: this tedious, originality-starved run through familiar rom-com tropes is basically one long awkward moment. It's a film that for everyone involved -- including stars Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller along with writer/directror Tom Gormican -- would be wise to quietly put behind them… like puberty or admitting that you cried at the end of Marley & Me. Here are the most awkward things about this entirely awkward movie.
The Fake Friendship
Romantic chemistry is hard, but bromantic chemistry might be even harder. Ever since Barry Levinson's guy movie touchstone Diner, succeeding generations of filmmakers have attempted to put together an ensemble that replicates the natural ease with which those best buds interacted with each other onscreen. Some of these combinations have worked (think of the male couples in Swingers, Superbad and the underrated I Love You, Man), but many more have failed, which is the case here. Individually, Efron, Jordan and Teller are charismatic guys (well, Jordan and Teller are anyway), but collectively they barely seem like casual acquaintances let alone close pals since college. Since moving to Manhattan after graduation, Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Teller) work, live and serially date together while married Mikey (Jordan) drops by the pad on a regular basis for some hang time. They also make ridiculous spit brother-like pledges to prove their loyalty; for example, after Mikey's wife (Jessica Lucas) reveals she's been boffing a Morris Chestnut clone, Jason and Daniel vow that they're going to remain commitment free until he's in another, healthier relationship. Naturally, that pledge is challenged when they each find themselves drawn to different women: snarky author Ellie (Imogen Poots) for Jason and guy's girl Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) for Dan. It's not entirely unlike the set-up to that classic Seinfeld episode "The Challenge," although once again, there you actually believed that Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine liked (or hate-liked) each other.
The Wanna-be Frank Sex Talk
The guys in That Awkward Moment would have you believe that they're experts on sex and relationships, swapping war stories and advice (like, if you need to pee after popping a Viagra, lay horizontal over the toilet bowl), as well as walking in on each other while they're contorted in different positions with their late-night booty calls. But just like 12-year-olds trying out profanity for the first time, all the sexual innuendo doesn't sound natural coming out of their mouths. Part of that has to do with Gormican's clunky script -- which often sounds like he listened to a few of the bluer Kevin Smith podcasts and tried to imitate that -- but it's also in the delivery: even though their characters are written as back-slapping dicks, these actors register as too clean-cut and too darn nice to convincingly engage in this much dick talk.
The Women Forgive and Forget Too Easily
Aside from Mikey's wife, who is written and played as a selfish sex-starved shrew, the ladies of That Awkward Moment are at least self-confident enough to knock the guys upside the head when they act like idiots. Chelsea, for example, rightly drops Daniel when he lies to her face about telling his friends about their burgeoning relationship, while Ellie reconsiders spending another second with Jason after he can't bring himself to be by her side for an important (though random and bizarre) event. That makes it all the more awkward and disappointing when they abandon their independence (and their brains) in the final act when their exes offer up unconvincing public apologies before pleading to get back together. Whether intentional or not, the message of the movie winds up being: "If you love an asshole, set him free. If they come back, immediately surrender your self-respect."
The Unrealistic Manhattan Real Estate
Years of watching Friends should have cured us all of our disbelief over how certain individuals are able to live in certain Manhattan apartments. Still, the living arrangements here are particularly fantastical as book jacket designers Jason and Dan are somehow able to afford the payments on a lavish loft, while yet-to-be-published writer Ellie dwells in a beautifully-appointed flat while dreaming of a Gramercy Park zip code and seemingly unemployed Chelsea boasts a Village townhouse. (Though, to be fair, that may be her parents' house -- much like her job, her living arrangement is never fully explained.) Maybe these folks could afford that posh lifestyle in their 40s, but in their 20s? They'd be crammed into sublets in Bushwick.
The Knowledge that Jordan and Teller Are So Much Better Than This
Just last year, these two actors delivered breakout dramatic performances in a pair of critically acclaimed indie dramas -- Fruitvale Station and The Spectacular Now respectively -- and now they're stuck playing second and third leads to the High School Musical kid. Because he has the benefit of being the sarcastic one in the group (the same role he had in the Footloose remake), Teller at least gets to score a few medium-sized chuckles, making his participation a slightly less egregious waste of his time and talent than Jordan's "token black best friend" part. One imagines that, between takes, they were constantly hitting refresh on The Black List site in search of better projects to attach themselves to.
Efron's Facial Scruff
It's understandable that Efron would want to show the world that he's not the Disney-farmed teen idol he once was by dirtying up his appearance. Unfortunately, that thin, patchy substance growing on his face that's meant to be facial hair actually makes him look younger than he did in his High School Musical days.
Poots's Ratty Hair
It's a sign that Ellie is spending too much money on that deluxe apartment of hers when she apparently can't afford a bottle of conditioner or even a simple brush. Awkward though it may be, someone really should explain the basics of hair care to her lest she wake up one morning with a family of birds living in that tangled nest of follicles.
Having to Explain to Your S.O. Why You Thought This Would be a Good Date Movie
If you do decide to make That Awkward Moment the centerpiece of a date night with your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/mistress/crush object/best friend's sister, be prepared for an awkward viewing experience followed by an even more awkward trip home afterwards, as you both try and sort out why you spend 94 minutes and upwards of $12 a ticket watching this dull misfire. The good news is that, since this is Super Bowl weekend, the chances of that situation happening to a majority of moviegoers is slim to none.
Get showtimes and tickets for this movie from Fandango.
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