That Awkward Moment (2014)

3 Feb

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Smith’s Verdict: **

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“That Awkward Moment” is a romantic comedy (“romcom”) told from the male perspective. For most moviegoing males, this would be interesting, since they generally hate romcoms. They’re tired of the usual clichés that romcoms share and push them aside as “chick flicks.” Well, now we have three main characters in “That Awkward Moment” who are guys, but this doesn’t fix the problem of the romcom clichés. That’s because the clichés are still present here. It doesn’t matter from whose perspective you center a romcom on; it doesn’t change much in the story. You still have the relationships with The Lie, The Bad Advice, The Misunderstanding, The Final Emotional Speech In Front Of A Large Crowd, etc.

Oops, I gave away the ending, didn’t I?

“That Awkward Moment” isn’t as clever or smart as a Judd Apatow romantic comedy, which I sometimes see as an exception to the rule, mainly because Apatow knows how to keep the romance and comedy consistent and original for the most part. But to the credit of “That Awkward Moment,” the film has its moments of both romance and comedy that do work, mainly when it focuses AWAY from its running gags (most of which include a neverending series of cracks about genitalia).

It also deserves credit for its casting. The actors playing the three main characters (Zac Efron as arrogant, selfish Jason; Miles Teller as wisecracking barfly Daniel; and Michael B. Jordan as Mikey, the most mature one of the trio) are spot-on and play their roles well. They share good chemistry together and you really buy them as good friends. Unfortunately, you don’t care enough about them to spend more time with them. That’s because they each put themselves in situations where you just want to smack them in the face for thinking this. (And I know it’s part of the joke, because they refer to each other as “idiots” for their deeds, but that still doesn’t excuse the acts already executed.) That’s one of the major problems with this movie.

“That Awkward Moment” is about how these three young men make a pact to stay single after Mikey has just gotten out of a relationship with his wife (played by Jessica Lucas) who was cheating on him. His friends, Jason and Daniel, try to cheer him up by going out to a bar. Jason meets a beautiful blonde named Ellie (played by an astonishing Imogen Poots) and goes home with her, but when he sees signs that point to her as a hooker, he bails, only to discover (big shock) that she isn’t a hooker at all.

Tell me something, ladies. If a guy says he bailed on you because he thought you were a hooker right to your face, would you give him another chance?

Well, Ellie does. And she and Jason go out on many dates, which Jason isn’t so sure about, since has been through the “so” moment just recently with his previous girlfriend (“so” as in the question “so are we officially dating”). Meanwhile, Daniel starts a fling with his female buddy, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), and decides he wants to be more than “friends with benefits.” She agrees, as long as Jason and Mikey are cool with it. So of course, Daniel lies about telling them. Oops.

And get this—Mikey’s soon-to-be ex-wife wants to start something again with him, even though all logic points to a trap. Anyone can see this. Anyone except for Mikey, that is.

Mikey’s story gets the least development as Mikey is always sidelined by that of Jason and Daniel. That’s a shame too, because Mikey seems like the guy you’d like to pal around with and talk random stuff with. And it’s also unfortunate, seeing as how he makes as many dumb mistakes as the other guys.

Jason and Ellie have nice moments together, as Efron and Poots exhibit convincing chemistry. But the problem falls with Jason, who is too much of an arrogant jerk to care for. Even when the inevitable happens and he learns his lessons after making dumb mistakes, it’s hard to feel for him, though another problem with that may be the way it’s written. It doesn’t seem convincing enough.

I was actually wishing the relationship with Daniel and Chelsea was its own movie. Of the three central relationships, this one was my favorite. It was both sweet and funny at the same time, keeping that right balance. I enjoyed watching both actors play off each other. I was hoping they wouldn’t go through the usual clichés (but alas, the Misunderstanding had to happen).

Now for the comedy. I’ll admit to having laughed a few times, sometimes despite myself. But you also have to question most of the setups. For example, what about when Jason confuses Ellie’s “dress-up” party for something so different he wears an embarrassing outfit to? Why would he wear it anyway if he knew Ellie’s friends and family were going to be there? There’s also a gag involving Viagra that questions what these guys consider a pickup at a bar, but to be fair, it does lead to a funny sight gag.

Also, I couldn’t help but feel that “That Awkward Moment” is a PG-13 story in an R-rated movie, meaning the filmmakers must have thought the relationships were too sweet for a male romcom, so they needed more F-bombs and a lot (and I mean A LOT) of genitalia jokes. It’s a good thing I didn’t bring a date to this movie, because we would have had our own awkward moment.

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