'That Awkward Moment'
About fifteen years ago, ‘That Awkward Moment’ still would have been a bad movie, but at least it would have been a failed entry in a common ’90s genre. As it stands now, the film is dull, derivative and out of date. Most importantly, it’s a romantic comedy that’s neither funny nor romantic. It’s just a big waste of time and marginal talent.
Back when ‘Friends’ was appointment television and Kevin Smith was still wrapped in a comforting veil of Miramax-approved indie cool, it was acceptable for movies to exist in which overly-verbose twentysomethings pontificated about life, sex and pop culture through monologues standing in as action. Some wonderful movies were cranked out in that style (certainly Smith made his share). Yet as with any trend, the rip-offs, knock-offs and photocopies watered down what was once interesting until it became simply passé. These days, indie financiers should know better than to allow someone like first-time writer/director Tom Gormican (whose only previous IMDb entry is a producer credit on ‘Movie 43’… shudder) to turn a script like ‘That Awkward Moment’ into a film.
The movie is about a collection of New York bros who like to do bro-approved activities like having sex, talking about sex or making rude gestures suggesting sex. Zac Efron plays a graphic designer at a book company, while Miles Teller plays his partner, whose only contribution to the team seems to be the ability to make coffee next to Efron’s desk. Somehow, they each live in massive New York apartments that they couldn’t possibly afford in the real world.
The third party in these Three Amigos is Michael B. Jordan, a married Manhattan doctor whose wife just left him. In response/retaliation, the trio make a pact to stay single for a year in sexist solidarity. But wouldn’t ya know it, right when they make that pact, Efron meets the girl of his dreams (Imogen Poots) and Teller finally figures out that the beautiful lady friend he’s known since college and is exactly like him (Mackenzie Davis) is actually worth dating. Uh oh! Looks like the bros will fail at their planned bro-downs!
Of course, that doesn’t really matter. It’s all just an excuse for Gormican to shove faux-profound and unfunny monologues into every actor’s mouth until they all sound like the same obnoxious character. Well, either that or staging allegedly hilarious comedy set pieces like having Efron accidentally wear a dildo to a fancy dress party. (Whoopsi! Goodness gracious! Etc.)
Even if the screenplay for ‘That Awkward Moment’ offered any genuine insight or hilarity, it would still suffer from the tragic flaw of casting the thoroughly unfunny Efron as a comedic lead. He’s not a terrible actor, but his comic timing is about on par with your drunk Uncle Steve at an unfortunate family luncheon. Only Miles Teller can actually speak in the cadence of a funny person, but all his talent does is highlight the weakness of the dialogue.
Beyond that, the characters are just jerks to the point of being reprehensible. Efron is forced to deal with such dilemmas as deciding whether or not to accompany a gal he has feelings for to her father’s funeral because he’s concerned that’ll mean they’re dating (actual sequence). Weirdly, the best performances come from Imogen Poots and Mackenzie Davis, whose natural charisma and charm manage to inject a little life to their underwritten roles. Unfortunately, they aren’t the main characters, and the trio of d-bags who are the stars of the show are so tiresome and falsely written that it’s impossible to feel for anyone in the movie or care if they get a happy ending.
This still would have been a bad movie in 1998, but at least it would have been a bad version of a popular style of guy-centric rom-com. Trotting out something so limp and dated onto contemporary viewers already tired of this style of cinematic storytelling borders on audience contempt. In other words, don’t see it. Ever.