Review: That Awkward Moment

Zac Efron, Miles Teller, and Michael B. Jordan star in a film written and directed by Tom Gormican.

<em>That Awkward Moment</em>

This looks like a simple three-way bromance formula, putting hunky Zac Efron in the company of two very talented performers Miles (Project X) Teller and the Michael B. Jordan who was honored at the Santa Barbara International Film Fest earlier this week. The film’s dialogue unfolds in the Judd Apatow school of easy vulgarities that uneasily mask privately vulnerable males. The three guys (all “friends from college”) are almost making it in Manhattan — Jordan plays a doctor, and Efron and Teller portray an arts production team whose book designs are catching on with the publishing world. After the wife of Jordan’s character cheats on him, the three agree to never let a woman close enough to disrupt their diet of regular meaningless sex. Anyone who’s read Shakespeare or seen a Three Stooges movie knows exactly what happens next.

But the studio allows another wrinkle to develop: This sausage buffet is meant to be a rom-com, too. The awkward balance of the title really refers to the writers, producers, and directors who try to patch together a boyish romp within a wedding-bell-blues story. We’ll laugh until we sigh. But no one in this movie is smart enough to pull that off. For one thing, the boys seem a little too good for loser chic. Sure, they drink and obsess about getting laid while playing video games, but they also finished college, regularly work at their good jobs, and have their own N.Y.C. apartments. Worse, the women seem dumb. Imogen Poots plays a winsome boy-girl, and Mackenzie Davis takes on the role of the boys’ best pal. But she also helps them hustle club girls like a kind of procuring angel before she falls. Either way, it’s hard to know why we should like her.

But the real awkwardness here is the writing. In order for such comedies to succeed, we need some kind of clever machinery that trumps the impossible impediments. In this film, it’s a title card that reads “Two Months Later.” Maybe the smart set in this movie, who could only exist in a movie, are dumb enough to fall for each other, but besides some heartthrob actors, this film leaves us nobody to like.


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