Review of: That Awkward Moment
Romantic-Comedy by:
Tom Gormican

Reviewed by:
On January 30, 2014
Last modified:February 4, 2014


Rated R. Written and Directed by Tom Gormican. Starring Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller and Imogen Poots.

Written and directed by Tom Gormican in his feature-film debut, That Awkward Moment follows three college friends now negotiating ostensibly grown-up life in NYC — ringleader and ‘rotation’ master Jason (Zac Efron), messily-married M.D. Mikey (Michael B.  Jordan) and slovenly, slack, charming Daniel (Miles Teller). When Mikey’s marriage implodes spectacularly, the three friends make a pact that they will all be single in solidarity with him no matter what — a pact that meets problems as soon as Mikey starts sleeping with his not-yet-ex-wife, Daniel starts kinda-sorta-seeing the trio’s female friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) and Jason’s meet-cute with Ellie (Imogen Poots) is making him wonder why he’s so singularly focused on being single …

The fact is that aside from its ostensibly ‘natural’ but really terribly forced sense of the playfully blunt and lightly impolite — butts, fake sex, boner jokes and blowjob theory — That Awkward Moment is dispiritingly conventional and retrograde in its construction, plot and characters. in voice-over, Jason explains that every casual relationship he’s had — sex, but no commitment; affection, but no obligation — has come to a moment where the young lady involved — curse her for her simple, emotional needs — would like to know exactly where the relationship is headed. Jason calls this the “So …” conversation, and he dreads it. And yet he still has it a lot. If Jason weren’t a moron, he’d probably get that …

And as lively and loud as all of That Awkward Moment’s saga of Bro-rrested Development gets, and as charming as Efron, Jordan and Teller are — which is to say, substantially charming — the movie never really makes a significant jump wither in terms of its comedy or its ostensible drama. The film’s well-made — cinematographer Brandon Trost (Crank: High Voltage, This is the End) makes our protagonists and New York both look great, although at one point when the three men are walking abreast in cold weather in great winterwear, you might be excused for thinking you’ve stumbled into a long, strange fashion article promoting That Awkward Moment more than you think about the fact that you in fact are watching a film called That Awkward Moment.

And while the leads are charming, the script gives them an astonishingly small amount to do. Teller is, essentially, the funny one (actually, given Jordan and Efron’s toned-to-perfection abs-in-relief physiques, he’s the fat funny one in comparison); Jordan struggles with the fact that the singlehood his friends praise is a massive drag; Efron wonders why he can’t quite seem to commit even with someone who is as designed-to-be-lovely from the jump as Ms. Poot’s character. It’s a bore, not a blast; it’s forced and skeevy, not ‘raunchy and real.’ And while Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan surely must have appreciated the chance to be in a mainstream film where you don’t have to suffer, die or rage against late-stage capitalism as opposed to their indie work; Efron is also capable of being very good (his under-appreciated turn in 17 Again is actually terrific) but none of these three leads have anything like a fresh, smart script to work with, just familiar cliches wrapped around boner gags.

While the film’s stultifyingly clunky title is as shapeless as it is meaningless, you can’t help but wish that the director-writer and his crew had explored truly awkward moments — uglier conversations, real fights, actual emotional interaction would jump and bump with life instead of the smooth, straight, on-rails progress of the movie we have here. But all the film’s moments are less awkward than they are utterly forgettable; straight off the assembly line with jerks seeking Zen and romance, That Awkward Moment really only works as a scary study in misplaced gender equity — namely, that you can now try to sell young men clueless, bland, boring romantic-comedies, too.

Rated R. Written and Directed by Tom Gormican. Starring Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller and Imogen Poots.
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