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Movie Review | ‘That Awkward Moment’ disappoints with tired, stale story

Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 06:02

“That Awkward Moment,” tells the story of Jason (Zac Efron), Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) and Daniel (Miles Teller): three best friends in their late 20s who are living in New York and learning how to deal with relationships. Jason and Daniel — two stereotypical womanizers uninterested in any kind of commitment — work together at a company that designs book covers. Mikey is a doctor at the local hospital who has been married for several years. When Mikey’s wife confesses to cheating on him and asks for a divorce, Mikey shuts down, confused as to how things went wrong. In an attempt to console him, the three friends make a pact to all stay single for as long as possible and focus on their friendship.

Rather predictably, Jason meets the beautiful and intelligent Ellie (Imogen Poots) at a bar right after the pact is made. Assuming this will be a one-night stand, the two return to Ellie’s apartment. The next morning, Jason bolts upon seeing what he assumes is evidence that Ellie is a hooker: a wad of cash on the night stand, knee-high black boots and boxes of condoms on the floor. That same morning, Jason and Daniel present a book cover to a client, who, to Jason’s surprise, is being represented by Ellie herself.

As could be expected, Jason — after much apologizing — begins to spend more and more time with Ellie. Daniel has a similar experience when he drunkenly hooks up with the trio’s good friend, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) and realizes that he has feelings for her. Mikey, distraught from his imminent divorce, begs his wife to take him back and then secretly starts sleeping with her again. The three friends — each assuming the other two have stayed true to the pact — lie to one another about their significant others.

“That Awkward Moment” is a straightforward romantic comedy, and is certainly nothing spectacular. This is Tom Gormican’s debut as a director, so perhaps it makes sense that his first film is rather underwhelming. He played it safe — probably a little too safe — with this genre. In general, “That Awkward Moment”is enjoyable, but it is not a movie one would be eager to see again. It brings together a talented and attractive cast in Efron, Jordan and Teller, but counteracts their potential with a predictable and bland plot. The actors did their best with what was given to them, but they needed a better script in order to really shine.

Efron, specifically, has clearly outgrown his “High School Musical” (2006) days, showing that he has great potential, even when working with a flat script. He, Jordan and Teller have great chemistry and they do have some truly funny moments — the most notable of which is a scene featuring Efron and Teller naked and planking on the toilet. Unfortunately for “That Awkward Moment,” all of the film’s most comical sections are compiled into the two-minute trailer.

Indeed, the movie is true to its name: most of it felt like an awkward moment — and not an endearing one. Unless you are a devout Efron fan, “That Awkward Moment” isn’t worth the $10 ticket price. In a few months, if you are looking for a fairly one-dimensional comedy that has enough romance and bros-just-being-bros to satisfy everyone — and you happen to find “That Awkward Moment” on Netflix — then, by all means, go for it. Just expect a plot filled with elements that have already been done better before.

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