What do you call a movie with a terrible plot that gets in the way of a likable cast and some funny moments; That Awkward Moment. The film is the debut of writer-director Tom Gormican, and is a frustrating one.
Three dudes/guys/bros in their 20s are best buds/friends/bros. Two of them are ecstatically single, the laid-back cool guy Jason (Zac Efron) and the motor-mouth Daniel (Miles Teller), with the third guy Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) less than happy about his solo-status. Mikey is fresh from finding out that his wife wants a divorce, not to mention is sleeping with a Morris Chestnut look-a-like, the last part one of several gags that get quality mileage out of a scenario. Finally a pack of single guys again, Jason and Daniel agree the intention to stay that way; girlfriends and anything serious be damned.
That’s where the problems begin, narratively for the characters and the audience. Of course the lone wolves immediately discover that someone special, leading to lies, sneak-arounds and other various misdirections, to themselves and their boys. The plot is simplistic – which isn’t innately bad – and obvious. One knows there will be the moment one of our protagonists has to mislead his girlfriend, then it happens and then the inevitable occurs, surprises or something new be damned. By the time the final act of That Awkward Moment closes out, it’s easy to dismiss the movie as a whole for its failings and bland melodrama. Oh, and that melodrama is eye-rolling.
Yet, it’s not all bad. Teller is amusing in his usual manner, Jordan resonates softly as a heartbroken guy trying to figure out where it all went wrong and Efron is, well, so-so. Efron’s chemistry with the guys is alright. Where it falters is with love-interest Imogen Poots. The meet-cute elements are ok, while the turn towards troubled-waters feels painted on; said and not felt. If someone sticks out especially it’s Mackenzie Davis, the point of Mr. Teller’s affections. There’s a sweet rapport between Davis and Teller, with her gamely giving as much crap as she receives in the verbal sparring department. She’s a new presence to mainstream cinema and has an innate charisma that eschews the usual over-eager, cloying acting too many actors and actresses give-off in modern romantic comedies. Too bad the material isn’t up to her or the majority of the cast’s abilities.
That Awkward Moments opens wide all across Seattle tomorrow.