That Awkward Moment (2014)
★ / ★★★★
Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) comes home one day and finds his wife (Jessica Lucas) with a lawyer. Not just any lawyer—he is also the man that she happens to be seeing. In order to help their best friend to go through a rough patch, Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) come up with an idea: for moral support, they will remain single indefinitely. This proves to be a challenge when Jason meets an author (Imogen Poots) who ticks all the boxes that he is looking for in a woman and Daniel begins to realize that he is in love with a friend (Mackenzie Davis) who acts as his wing-woman in bars.
I thought this movie was never going to end. Pretty much everything about writer-director Tom Gormican’s “That Awkward Moment” is synthetic, bland, seemingly inspired by egregious romantic comedies with one dead-on-arrival twist: young men—instead of women—facing a possibility of love, wrestling with it, and deciding what feels right. It offers nothing new to the table and so it becomes a chore to sit through.
It is not without charm and some chuckles. There is chemistry among the three leads so they are not unbearable to watch create a scene from nothing. As the outtakes has shown, Jordan, Efron, and Teller can ad lib and some of their efforts work. When they do not, the energy behind their deliveries are felt but that isn’t to suggest it is enough reason to overlook the overall lack of creativity, real feelings, and intelligence in the screenplay.
The perspective is misplaced. Instead of focusing on the most interesting friend, Mikey, who went to medical school right after college and led a life that he believed would grant him security and happiness, there are far too many scenes of Jason and Ellie supposedly being into one another. A smirk here, a sex scene in the middle, batting of the eyelashes there—what makes what they have more interesting than Mikey and Vera being on the verge of divorce? By comparison, the problems between the two couples are far too great. As a result, my mind is desperate to want to know more about the root of Mikey and Vera’s marital troubles. I could not care less about whether or not Jason the book cover artist would finally get together with Vera.
Daniel’s subplot is middling. I really like Teller as an actor because he often has a child-like quality to his performances. You just want to pinch his cheeks or tease him just to see how he might react. While he injects such a quality to his character here, the script fails to capitalize on the strengths of the performance. Instead, the material relies on Teller being able to talk really fast but the would-be jokes are mostly misses than hits. It is extremely frustrating seeing someone who is capable of doing so much more doing a lot less.
It is easy to predict a movie like “That Awkward Moment” but smart scripts make it work by amping up the human factor and masking the hurt with layers of comedy—irony, farce, screwball, for instance. Here, when secrets are inevitably revealed and feelings are hurt, I was unable to relate with any of them. Every character seems to have a one-track mind: love is a be-all and end-all of their existence. These are not people; these are products of an unimaginative, commercial-driven mind. I dare the writer-director to prove me wrong—if there is a next time.