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‘That Awkward Moment’ lives up to its name in the worst way

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, February 10, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 21:02

For a film as light and unimportant as it is, “That Awkward Moment” left me feeling surprisingly conflicted. I won’t deny that sitting through it was a pleasant experience, and I laughed enough to deem the movie funny. But at the same time, there’s an arrogance and lack of humanism to it that rubbed me the wrong way.

Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan star as three 20-somethings in New York City, each trying to meet their relationship goals while maintaining their close friendship. Efron, who unfortunately has fallen back into the pretty-boy type, plays Jason, a bachelor who thinks he knows a deal more about relationship psychology than he actually does. He falls for Ellie (Imogen Posts) despite his commitment to his friends to stay single. Teller, who comes off as a skinny Jonah Hill, has the so-classic-it’s-cliché conflict of dating a longtime friend without telling his guy friend. Jordan, who probably wishes more people saw him in “Fruitvalle Station” than this, is going through a rather unmotivated divorce with a relatively small emotional burden.

The plots take every predictable turn, and the clues for what will become in the third act could be pointed out by a grade-schooler. But “That Awkward Moment” seems to be aware of how thin its stories are, and practically ignores them for most of its run time. A good hour of the film’s 90 minutes is spent in this idealistic bubble where absolutely everything goes right for the characters and the film’s few actual awkward moments are resolved almost instantly. The atmosphere becomes akin to “Before Sunrise,” albeit much less intelligent. There’s a warm sweetness to it, and had it endured to the credits, I may have liked the movies a lot more. But eventually that bubble has to pop and we are treated to contrived devices to restore conflict and equally artificial resolutions. The movie solves Efron’s arc by literally complimenting its own screenplay, and that’s what ultimately spun my opinion in the unfavorable direction.

All of the characters fall into the realm of having distinct enough personalities to blend into one without coming across as cartoony. The three central guys have their charms and a lot of chemistry, aided by sharp dialogue that bounces between them like a ping ong ball. But at times it’s a little too much; the level of bromance becomes almost sickening. I also find difficult to identify with characters in a movie about relationships when they are all played by people in the 95th percentile of attractiveness.

The humor is where the film most is most relatable. It consists largely of bar and bedroom shenanigans. The characters mock each other’s quirks with obvious affection, and many of the laughs that occur I can picture taking place between myself and my personal friends. Although it is strange for all the drinks we watch them consume, no one ever appears drunk and drunken humor would have fit perfectly here.

“That Awkward Moment” succeeds in parts but fails as a whole. It’s a carefree picture that puts most of its effort into making the audience laugh, but then forgets comedy needs a sufficient vehicle. Relationship arcs with as much substance as tween sitcoms is not sufficient enough.


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