That Awkward Moment Takes Casual Approach to Rough Content
- Friday, January 31, 2014
DVD Release Date: May 13, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: January 31, 2014
Rating: R for sexual content and language throughout
Run Time: 94 min.
Director: Tom Gormican
Cast: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas, Addison Timlin
"You guys are idiots," says Mikey (Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station), a doctor in a troubled marriage, to his immature friends Jason (Zac Efron, Liberal Arts) and Daniel (Miles Teller, The Spectacular Now) in That Awkward Moment. The friends' recommendations about how to work out Mikey's relationship issues don't sit right with the only person among them who has pursued a committed relationship.
"Idiots" may be a compliment for the dimwitted Jason and Daniel, who aren't the sort of people you want to have a conversation with much less watch for 90-plus minutes. It's only late in the film that it dawns on them that they don't have life figured out after all.
That's how this type of movie works: cast appealing performers in roles that require little of the actors or the audience. As long as the story is somewhat relatable, viewers will tend to give a pass to any deficiencies in the script—lack of character development, lazy dialogue, etc. It's a low bar, one that recent comedies like Best Man Holiday and Think Like a Man managed to clear, if not by much. That Awkward Moment, however, can't rise even that high, saddling its likeable cast with dull dialogue and giving its characters talents that defy credulity (Daniel and Jason as book-cover designers? Daniel's barfly friend as an accomplished singer/pianist? No and no).
Mikey's assessment of Jason and Daniel's mental limitations may be correct, but That Awkward Moment spends much more time with Mikey's carefree, careless friends than it does with Mikey, who at least is aiming for a respectable life. The film opens and closes with Jason—by far the least interesting of the three main characters—trying to figure out how to handle the women in his life. He's the type of guy who hears danger anytime a casual lover begins a conversation with "So…"—a surefire preface to a question about relationship status.
That's not a subject Jason likes to discuss. He's so unserious that, as a disenchanted lover points out early in the film, he still drinks coffee out of a cereal bowl. Among his guy friends, he makes fine distinctions between "dating" and "a hookup," and speaks glowingly of the roster he uses to keeps track of which woman in his life falls into which category.
Jason's good friend Daniel isn't much better. A smooth talker who uses his best female buddy, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), to set him up with other women, Daniel spends the rest of his time thinking about Viagra and all the stories of sexual conquest he can share with Jason and Mikey.
Of the three primary female roles in That Awkward Moment, the most interesting goes to Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later) as Jason’s latest girlfriend, Ellie. After making Ellie the butt of several unfortunate jokes mistaking her for a prostitute, the script, written by director Tom Gormican, allows Ellie to become a character who, while not immune to the dangers of getting intimate too quickly with Jason, can express something approaching complex emotions. That’s more than can be said for Mikey’s wife, Vera (Jessica Lucas, Cloverfield), who gets pegged early as an adulterer and then a possibly repentant spouse before arousing Mikey’s suspicions anew. Then there’s Daniel's talented, pretty friend Chelsea, who, we’re supposed to believe, hasn’t previously merited a second look from the sex-obsessed Daniel.
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