That Awkward Moment film review
That Awkward Moment (2014)
Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas
CRITIC’S RATING: * 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
Writer-director Tom Gormican’s recipe for hormonal male-bonding and raunchy romantic mishaps makes for an unsettling and indifferent aftertaste in his tired and tedious sex farce That Awkward Moment. Relentlessly tepid, tedious and tasteless, Gormican’s formulaic take on a trio of horndog buddies going through the misguided motions of tackling the mysteries of the opposite sex plays like an outdated badboy romp from the eighties. Needlessly uninspired with recycled genitals gags and other bathroom humor, the aptly entitled That Awkward Moment is saddled with more than its share of labored awkwardness.
The gimmick wears thin because there is nothing stimulating or intriguing about witnessing three cool-as-a-cucumber cads strut their stuff against a background of clueless babes and baseless barbs. The movie is definitively lazy and limp because Gormican and his lunkhead Lotharios never truly explore the genuine peaks and valleys of young adult contemporary relationships and the spotty complications of sexual entanglements. Instead, That Awkward Moment finds cheapened comfort in resorting to throwaways thrills and cliched chaos in a listless laugher that has all the polished naughtiness of a defective vibrator.
It is a darn crying shame because the three lead actors–Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller–are saddled in this motley mess of a titillating tease that totally wastes their on-screen credibility. Efron has never really blew anybody’s socks off courtesy of the syrupy cinema he has glaring on his established movie resume since leaving behind his heralded Disney Channel days as a coveted poster boy for smitten teenyboppers. Still, That Awkward Moment only prolongs Efron’s flimsy streak to find material that benefits his untapped strengths as a capable performer while trying to shake off yesteryear’s residue as a cable TV teen sensation. Jordan, ever so affecting in the penetrating in Fruitvale Station, gets sidelined with this charmless romantic rust. Teller, highly effective in The Spectacular Now, does not look too appetizing in comparison to his other two cohorts.
Manhattan-based doctor Mikey (Jordan) is trapped in a monotonous marriage to the cheating Vera (Jessica Lucas) who feels frustrated by her husband’s lack of affection or attention. Naturally, Mikey needs to find some solution regarding his marital malaise. What better way to resolve his domestic conflicts than to turn to his college buddies in book cover designer Jason (Efron who narrates the goings-on in the movie) and Daniel (Teller)–Jason’s co-worker at the same publishing book company where they perform illustrations for countless reading materials. Together, these ready-to-rock Romeos have one thing in mind–to pour on the charisma and try to score with a random of willing women looking to be scooped and bedded down. Remember, no attachments or commitments are encouraged…just a string of one night stands and a “slam, bam…thank you ma’am!” Mikey may be the old pro at married life but for Jason and Daniel the single life of bouncing to one curvaceous chick after another is the ideal state of mind and body.
These cocky guys consider themselves as a gift to the ladies and fancy this revelation ardently as long as “that awkward moment” does not transpire (the point where their carnal conquests decide that they want more out of the relationship besides instant pillow talk). Jason, Daniel and Mikey (okay, an interested observer at first) cannot afford to be bogged down with investing any feelings or concerns for the skirts…it is strictly the challenge of bar-hopping and “babe-popping” and escaping the instant gratification of one pretty face for another one.
Predictably, the misogynistic mayhem is threatened when “that awkward moment” starts to take its toll on the lusty lover boys. Heartbreaker Jason starts to show signs of falling for author Ellie (Imogen Poots) while Daniel has the legitimate hots for a pretty pianist Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). Will the threat of visiting “that awkward moment” result in ruining the solid friendship and the core of their constant philosophy about keeping the women at bay?
That Awkward Moment hideously strains to be irreverent and hip in observance about its premise. Sure, the arrogant protagonists have no redeeming value whatsoever and are intentionally meant to be the walking existence of a pants-dropping man-child. There is truth to how some young professional men view their trivial priorities of a woman–enjoying and objectifying them as if they were mere playthings courtesy of an arrested development to never grow up and assume structured responsibility. In this regard Moment would have made for a rather slick and in-depth screwball satire. However, Gormican foolishly elects to rely on the standby senselessness of goofy-minded shenanigans highlighted by toilet trysts, sex toy sight gags, accidental Viagra ingestion, desperate low-brow silliness and cartoonish womanizing.
That Awkward Moment yearns to strive for some Hangover-esque outlandishness as it pretends to wallow in cleverness about its crude battle-of-the-sexes convictions but it is nothing more than a fruitless sophomoric effort that squanders an opportunity to engage in fresh outrageous creativity.
NOTE: Focus of New York film critic Frank Ochieng is a member of: