Film Review: That Awkward Moment

Forced and unfunny in the extreme.

Three happy Manhattan amigos, Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), make a "bros before hos" pact when Mikey's wife (Jessica Lucas) suddenly asks him for a divorce. In an act of defiant solidarity, they vow to merely have fun and steer clear of any future romantic involvement, but soon find that this is impossible when Jason encounters the irresistibly spunky Ellie (Imogen Poots) in a bar one night, and Daniel finds more than jokey platonic release with an old acquaintance, sassy Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis).

This male-driven rom-com exhibits extreme signs of strain from its very first scene. That Awkward Moment offers a plethora of tired and off-putting running gags, beginning with Daniel's constantly being queried by his roommate buddies, "Did you just take a s*** in our bathroom?" as they suspiciously sniff the air. In their attempts to convince Mikey that being single is the ultimate bliss, Jason and Daniel natter on about having a "roster" of available chicks, "like a spa for your dick." It is universally agreed that the word "so" is always a warning flag when uttered by any girl, as in "So, where is this heading?" Writer-director Tom Gormican's idea of clever is having Jason mistakenly think Ellie is a hooker on their first date when he sees high-heeled boots and an envelope stuffed with cash in her apartment. If you find such blithe misogyny entertaining, then That Awkward Moment will surely be a rip-snorting diversion for you. 

The film proves no better at romance than farce. It's one of those cushy, fantasy-Manhattan movies where all the characters have huge, wonderful apartments; upright Mikey is a doctor, while Jason and Daniel toil as ultra-cool book-jacket designers, although why it takes two of them to come up with one dust jacket is rather a mystery. Exclusive Gramercy Park is chosen as a special setting for Jason and Ellie's trysting, but when Jason steals a key to the park from a hapless real estate agent showing them an apartment in the area, you just feel bad for the agent, whose job may well be imperiled.

After his sizzlingly undressed and sexy boy-toy appearance in The Paperboy, Efron here reverts to the blah blandness we have come to expect from this perennial juvenile. (He actually gets naked again here, straddling a toilet during an unfortunate experiment with Viagra, but it's entirely stupid, not sexy.) But vanilla-dull as Efron is, despite all his would-be-daring potty talk, he is positively mesmerizing compared to Jordan, who, stuck with the straight-arrow role, merely proves that a black guy can be just as—if not even more—dull as any white guy. Teller gets the juiciest part, as mouthy wild card Daniel, but his manic verbal shtick quickly becomes tiresome, so much so that I nearly cheered when he was hit by a car (as he was in the overrated The Spectacular Now). But his character survives and the frenetic jawing—with Efron providing an "Ain't we so clever?" rapid-fire repartee partner—numbingly continues.

I would mention the actresses involved but, really, what's the point? They all, including Addison Timlin as Jason's ever-available booty call, must make do with roles that are so thinly conceived they are little more than sketchy—and always blonde—foils for the guys.