Movie Review: That Awkward Moment

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 “That Awkward Moment” refers to that confusing moment in every dating relationship when you have to decide “So…where is this going?”. The story focuses on three best friends Jason (Zac Efron), Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) and Daniel (Miles Teller) who enact a pact to stay single in support of the newly heartbroken Mikey. Flings start to turn serious for three bachelors, and now the harder each of them try to cover up their commitments, the more complicated their love lives become.

It means well, it really does – with its oh so painful moments of forced poeticism about love. First time writer/director Tom Gormican may have watched and borrowed from too many Cameron Crowe movies, where simpler conversations can lead epiphanies about love and life.

It’s a completely superficial and mildly amusing bromance (thanks, in large part, to Miles Teller). This charming (and attractive) cast is wasted on a run-of-the-mill story, with underdeveloped and unlikeable characters.

That awkward moment…when you realize that the main characters are a-holes. Zac Efron (affectionately remembered from his High School Musical days) isn’t given a lot do, besides strut around in his underwear and hook up with gorgeous girls. Good for you bro. His character, Jason, is a player, with a roster of girls he can call up to keep things from getting too serious. But then he meets this one quirky girl who could be the one, but of course…he can’t tell her that. Miles Teller, as expected, is the scene-stealing “funny one”. I love the way this guy plays banter. He’s unabashedly arrogant and self-obsessed, in an effortless and ultimately endearing way. BUT…for all the great line delivery, this guy is still an a-hole who can’t be bothered to admit that he actually likes the girl he’s dating. Michael B. Jordan, after some stunning work in Fruitvale Station, is absolutely wasted here. His character is the least douchey of the three, and the most relatable of the bunch. Mikey, whose marriage falls apart, turns to his best friends for comfort. What he gets plays out a little something like this: “Hey Dude…your marriage fell apart…today?…that sucks…lets get wasted and sleep around”. Bros before Hos. Obviously.

There are some moments when the trio get genuine laughs – an easy relationship and some good banter (although, they have the annoying habit of finishing each other’s sentences) that I wish they’d spent more time on.

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That Awkward Moment attempts to capture the “new world” of relationships for twentysomethings. I say “attempts” because it’s the furthest thing from real life. My friend asked a ton of great questions throughout the 94-minute running time. The best being: “How does that guy get so many girls?”, “Who are these people?” and “What is his job? How does he afford to live there?”

In what part of New York do these fools live?! With their lofty and large apartments and seemingly unlimited disposable income. This isn’t the life of an average twentysomething, it’s the life of the twentysomething with a trust fund.

Ironically, Jason works as a book jacket designer (really?!). He mentions that his job is to “judge a book by its cover,” and that’s exactly how we judge these characters.

There’s little to no development for any of the leads or their respective love interests. Sure there are catch-phrases and running gags (Morris Chestnut references here and there, Daniel needing to take a dump every time he’s in Jason’s apartment, and Mikey with his orange junk), but in a rush to be witty and self-aware, we sacrifice any chance of truly caring for the characters.

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The women in this film are almost non-entities. They serve the purpose of moving the story (or what little there is of it), but there’s absolutely no character development. Imogen Poots plays Ellie – the typical manic-pixie-dream-girl (also borrowed from Cameron Crowe) who’s “one of the guys” and apparently doesn’t own a hairbrush. Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) acts as Daniel’s platonic wingman, but harbours romantic feelings for him. These ladies actually just wait in the wings while the guys carry on sleeping around and frankly, not treating them very well.

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I really wanted to like this movie, if only because its full of young and exciting talent, with Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan. I almost think that this premise could have worked as a tv show – a response to HBO’s Girls. But, unfortunately, the forced witticism really weighs down what could have been a fun (if formulaic) romp through modern day dating and relationships.

That Awkward Moment is definitely awkward… in its pacing, dialogue and story…and I guess it has a few moments too.

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