That Awkward Moment – Movie Review
Rating: C (Average)[youtube id=”rfst5WvSGDI” width=”620″ height=”360″]
That Awkward Moment is a romantic comedy that feels like it could have used input from the late Nora Ephron or even Paul Weitz. It is not hard to see the influence of many different sources within the screenplay, whether it be the bromance and improvised sex jokes of Judd Apatow or the title character explaining the ticks of handling a relationship commonly associated with Seinfeld. Borrowing elements from other romantic comedies is not a bad idea when tackling this genre, but the clichÃ©s build up to an experience that is best viewed on an airplane. Sure, it is mildly distracting for ninety minutes, but the likelihood of remembering the film come landing is small.
At the beginning of That Awkward Moment, there is potential to create a funny sex comedy in the vein of American Pie when the three lead characters decide to enter a pact to stay single for a number of months. This plot point is barely mentioned again, as if director/writer Tom Gormican completely forgot what the central premise was. The friendship between these three pals is hardly explored as they spend most of the time with either their girlfriends or simply making jokes at one another’s expense. One running gag involving Mikey’s unfortunate groin accident gets old very quickly and those scenes desperately needed somebody like Seth Rogen to punch up the jokes. Unlike Apatow’s works, where his characters appear to have a real camaraderie and have known each other for many years, the leads in That Awkward Moment feel like they just met only a couple of hours before the first script table read. That is certainly not the fault of the actors, though. Zac Efron is steadily improving since his High School Musical days and growing into a mature actor. Miles Teller and Michael B Jordan, who both broke out with indie hits last year, also bring a certain amount of likeability to their one-dimensional characters. Teller, in particular, brings to mind Jonah Hill in his voice and mannerisms. Unfortunately, they are saddled with material that gives them one-dimensional characters and weak jokes.
The women in That Awkward Moment don’t come off as much better. Imogen Poots seems like she’ll have a smart character able to withstand the male gaze and in a genuinely clever scene, she manages to scare off a bar hopping womanizer with only witty remarks. However, she then turns around and has little problem with Zac Efron’s Jason confusing her for a prostitute, requiring a lot of suspension of disbelief. The actions of Mikey’s cheating wife are so deplorable, it’s a wonder why he feels the need to return to her and try and retain her affections. Are we meant to root for them to reconcile their marriage or hope they get a divorce? The screenplay does not entirely make this clear. Mackenzie Davis does manage to escape from the picture unscathed, but Daniel’s decision to lie to her is unusual and unnecessarily creates a conflict and separation. That Awkward Moment fails in the goal of almost any romantic comedy, which is to root for their lead couples to get together, but there was never any real moment that caused me to wish for romantic entanglement. Instead, I wondered what the main appeal of the three lead males were.
As the film’s title suggests, a good amount of the humour revolves around the awkwardness of entering a relationship and dealing with the decisions that come with that. However, while it could have been an interesting and funny exploration into how we live our love lives, That Awkward Moment mostly retreats into sitcom territory. When Daniel walks in on Jason having a private moment with a lady friend, a laugh track could have been added in post-production and we would have been none the wiser. In addition to the aforementioned comments regarding Mikey’s groin, there are other odd running jokes like a gag about Daniel’s preferential toilet habits. The comedy never comes across as natural and that also leads to a general falseness with how the characters are written. There are plenty of great sitcoms out there, but That Awkward Moment is closer to the half-hour distractions of Friends, rather than the Seinfeld wit it tries to emulate.
That Awkward Moment will be relegated to the airwaves of the W Network for decades, as it has the feel of a movie that one will watch (with commercial breaks) and ultimately forget most of it before dinner. The actors do give it a game try and there is certainly a worthy comedic second banana to be found in Miles Teller. However, the screenplay merely sits on the level of mediocrity and it shows how much the romantic comedy genre is crying for a renaissance.Â That Awkward Moment is not insulting in its execution, but it does make the passing of Nora Ephron even more upsetting than it already was.
Review By: Stefan Ellison