Movie review: ‘That Awkward Moment’ feels like a recycled rom-com

MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICEJanuary 31, 2014 

Film Review That Awkward Moment

From left, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan and Zac Efron bring a few laughs in “That Awkward Moment.”

  • THAT AWKWARD MOMENT **

    Rated: R for sexual content and language. Starring: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots. Director: Tom Gormican. Running time: 94 minutes. Theaters: Edwards 22 and Edwards 9 in Boise, Edwards 14 and Edwards 12 in Nampa, Majestic 18 and Village Cinema in Meridian.

“So” is how “That Awkward Moment” begins every “awkward moment.” As in “So, what are we doing here?” Or “So, where do you see this relationship going?”

That’s the dating man’s lesson of “That Awkward Moment,” that “for girls, nothing good ever comes after, ‘So.’ ” It’s a chatty romantic comedy in the modern mode — rude, nude and crude — with some funny, writerly riffs on relationships and how to avoid them.

There are laughs, in the lead couple’s “meet cute” moment in a bar, when she (Imogen Poots) trots out that fortune-telling trick common to sex-obsessed sitcoms: rebuffing a suitor by forecasting an entire failed relationship based on how a guy is dressed, the manner of his approach and his lame pick-up line.

But the movie, like star Zac Efron and writer-director Tom Gormican, never lets us forget that it’s trying too hard, straining to spit out sexy, silly patter, reaching for that raunchy costume failure at a dinner party, grasping for gross takes on trips to the toilet.

Efron, Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now”) and Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”) play three New York pals who vow, when the doctor of the trio (played by Jordan) is dumped by his wife, to stay single and enjoy the mingling. Together, they will build “a roster” of booty calls. And the moment a woman starts “the talk” with “So,” they’ll bail.

That’s the plan.

Which all of them ignore. Jason (Efron), a smart-aleck designer of book covers, falls for this cute one-night stand, Ellie (Poots), who works for a publishing house. The hilarious chatterbox Daniel (Teller) starts to realize that his gorgeous, able-bodied lady wingman (Mackenzie Davis) is all the woman he’d ever need. And Mikey (Jordan) clings to the hope that his cheating lawyer wife (Jessica Lucas) will hear his reasoned “we checked off all the boxes” appeal to maintain their partnership masquerading as a marriage.

“That Awkward Moment” is a writer’s comedy, and it’s easy to see why this cast was drawn to Gormican’s script. The quips and riffs are sharp and sometimes spot-on.

As Ellie and Jason stroll through the upscale neighborhood around Gramercy Park, with its locked “private” park, we hear: “New York’s charm is you’re surrounded by things you can’t have.”

Efron never quite holds his own with the much funnier Teller, whose swagger and confidence always seem to be compensating for his awareness that he’s nobody’s idea of a hunk.

Poots, a British actress whose real accent only pops up in the outtakes at the end, is game but never quite achieves “You had me at hello.” Jordan has few demands made on him, dramatically.

“That Awkward Moment” isn’t really awkward at all. It’s overfamiliar, R-rated outtakes from “Rules of Engagement” or “How I Met Your Mother.”

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service