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film reel image

Friday, January 31, 2014

That Awkward Moment 2014 * * 1/2 Stars

That Awkward MomentDirector: Tom Gormican
Year: 2014
Rated R
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan

That Awkward Moment is the latest romantic comedy to hit theaters this winter. Yes it does venture into gross out territory with the tired old adage of toilet humor and penis jokes, but I would still categorize it as well, a romantic comedy. Its got a sloppy screenplay that seems all over the place, but it's fresher and it feels more original than your typical film of this genre. For one, it is told from the guy's point of view thereby throwing the female characters to the wayside. And second, the story although jumbled and branching off into too many tangents, still allows things to deepen. I like the background music which sort of feels like you're trapped in the 80's (you know, John Hughes style), I like the female romantic interests not because of their looks but because of their spirit and their soul, and furthermore, I think the cast as a whole, does decent work (I've never thought of Zac Efron as being much of an actor but he emotes well here).

So why can't I recommend this thing? Simple, it's the screenplay mentioned earlier, which makes the actors contradictory, hypocritical, and almost virtually unlikable. The movie in general is about relationships. However, you as the viewer, aren't able to figure out whether the main (male) leads in "Moment," want to really be in them or not. They don't mean what they say and on the flip side, surely don't say what they mean. Let's just say that what's on screen is the movie equivalent of a world class sprinter who sprangs his/her ankle right before reaching the finish line. To put it mildly, disappointing and unfortunate would be the words I would use.

Starting with an opening lukewarm flashback sequence in the first five minutes and harboring a male (you heard me) character who drowns out his break-up sorrows with Ben & Jerry's ice cream, That Awkward Moment depicts three best friends (they used to go to college together) living in downtown Manhattan. Two of them design magazine/book covers (Jason played by Zac Efron and Daniel played by fast talking, Vince Vaughn clone Miles Teller) while the other works as a doctor (nice guy Mikey played Michael B. Jordan). When one of them finds out that he is getting divorced from his wife, all three of them decide to make a pact to become single together (of course within 10 minutes they deviate from this plan which brings me to the main reason why I didn't embrace the fallen proceedings).

Almost everyone in frame seems to at one time or another, say something relatively fake or phony (if you decide to watch this flick, pay attention, you'll see what I mean). First time director (and screenwriter) Tom Gormican, along with fumbling much of the dialogue, adds the word "idiot" a lot (the script supervisor could be to blame on that one). He gets his characters to say it at least 2-3 times to each other (they also use the term "f 'ing" idiot as well).

Then we go back to the unlikability factor involving these three man-child frat boys. With the exception of Jordan's Mikey which seems to be the only person in the film you could maybe root for, he is still guilty by association for hanging out with his two other knucklehead (not to mention snide and selfishly jerkish) best friends. These two don't have a whole lot of respect for women even though they seem to be well liked by them. And although Teller and Efron are sufficient in their roles, you sense that in the end, their characters frankly, don't deserve to be with anybody.

Now the month of January as we all know, is littered with Oscar holdovers and the opposite being lousy, wretched movies. That Awkward Moment doesn't fall into the Oscar pile but it's not as bad as the latter. Its got decent acting, a few funny moments, and a rare, fresh take on the oddities of the romcom (told almost completely from the male point of view). However, it gets a so-so review from me. The actors rise above the jumbled screenplay but it's not enough. Also, "Moment" leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth because of its weak, flashback induced ending. It then feels the need to annoy you with tired, reheated outtakes to sit through right as the closing credits come up. Overall, as a date movie that is suppose to ring in the new year, That Awkward Moment is full of "moments" that sadly equal mixed results.

Written by Jesse Burleson


  1. Did this remind you of something Vince Vaughn would act in?

  2. Oh yeah. But he's obviously too old for the role, but come to think of it, he's a 40 year old trapped in a 20 year old's body anyway. Miles Teller, who plays one of the lead roles, is a total clone of Vince Vaughn. The acting styles are dead on.