Friday, January 31, 2014

That Awkward Moment offers cause to give pause

Zac Efron-centric bromantic-comedy is cliched and angsty but still enjoyable.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 12:18 PM

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click to enlarge ROSTER SPOT: Imogen Poots and Zac Efron navigate modern relationships in That Awkward Moment.
  • ROSTER SPOT: Imogen Poots and Zac Efron navigate modern relationships in That Awkward Moment.


That Awkward Moment is a light-handed cultural commentary masquerading as a raunchy rom-com. It tells the tale of a young man steeped in the modern American socio-sexual climate and the perils that befall him as he slavishly clings to the image and ideals he thinks he's supposed to want, despite all indicators to the contrary.

It's unclear which of these avenues writer-director-waiter Tom Gormican intended for his creative debut to go down; while Moment isn’t especially effective in either direction, the film offers enough giggles to tickle your funny bone and enough titillation to tickle your fancy, despite its predictability.

Despite the film's somewhat blurred objective, there's one thing that’s made abundantly clear: Jason (Zac Efron) is an asshole.
He admits it.

Hell, as a serial hook-up artist, he’s oddly proud of it. And, of course, he's proud of his “roster,” the collection of at-arm's-length women with whom he’s sufficiently engaged to merit occasional sex but detached enough to avoid the awkward issue of their official relationship status.
Avoid it until the “so,” that is.

Every relationship has that awkward moment where the dynamic shifts. For Jason, it’s the “so,” as in “So, where do you see this going?” That's the point at which the ambiguity of their connection can be protracted no further and it’s time to call it a day.

Upon one lady friend ending it for him, he was awestruck, but for the wrong reasons.

"I wasn't confused because she was breaking up with me. I was confused because I had no idea we were dating."

But when his friend, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), finds out his wife is consulting — and consorting — with a divorce attorney bearing an odd resemblance to Morris Chestnut, it's time for a bros' night out with fellow pal Daniel (Miles Teller) to build Mikey a roster. Wingwoman Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) is good enough that she can get the game-less but awkwardly charming Daniel action, Dr. Mikey should be a cinch. That's sure to end well for a man who misses his wife, probably about as as well as the trio's pact to remain single together (read: predictability). Especially when Ellie (Imogen Poots), one of Jason's most recent conquests, rears her head in Jason's professional life as well (read cliched).

So ... here’s that awkward moment when I admit I’ve almost no viewing history with the cast of this movie, save for Jordan’s role in Chronicle (and his performance apparently didn’t merit mention in my review two years ago). As such, I’ve no intelligent comment to offer on the cast members’ performances by comparison (and no mature comment when it comes to Poots’s surname). Efron is well-cast as the charming protagonist-prick. The waifish Poots may look like she graduated from the Taylor Momsen School of Beauty but she's competently charismatic in the role. Jordan, Teller and Davis offer solid-if-not-standout support and all five mains manage decent comedic chemistry.

That Awkward Moment is what it is; you can take it or leave it. You probably won't fall in love, but you might come back to it every now and then for an enjoyable good time.

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