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Movie Review: 'That Awkward Moment' Starring Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan

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That Awkward Moment

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Nothing good comes after the word "so", especially when it's a woman saying it. That seems to be the entire premise behind That Awkward Moment, a relationship comedy about dudes who, you'll be surprised to learn, have serious commitment issues. Pausing here to let the shock wash over you. So even though the film isn't telling us anything new in its rather juvenile outlook on the way men and women relate it's fortunate enough to be led by the trio of Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, and Miles Teller, who go a long way in making it watchable and at times even enjoyable.

Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Teller) are a pair of lovable, womanizing jerks living a life of one-night-stands and booty calls in Manhattan, until their best bud Mike (Jordan) is suddenly thrust back into the dating scene when his wife (Jessica Lucas) reveals she's been cheating on him with a guy who looks like Morris Chestnut. Why Morris Chestnut? Because all the ladies love him, and so does writer/director Tom Gormican who labors to turn his name into one of the film's many attempted catch phrases. With all three back out there, they make a promise to stay single and enjoy just being dudes and building their "roster" of women to score with until the inevitable question "So...what are we doing here?" comes up. Then it's time to kick them to the curb and move on. Chivalrous gentlemen they aren't; underneath their fashion mag outfits and breezy responsibility-free existence is a bunch of sexist pigs.

Of course, it's just as they make this pact of bachelorhood that that the perfect women enter their lives. For Jason it's Ellie (Imogen Poots) who puts the hooks into him, although things get off to a rocky start. After making her another notch on his bedpost, Jason suspects she's a high-class hooker and bails, only to have her show up at the publishing house he (barely) works at. Oops. Daniel falls for Chelsea (Breathe In's talented Mackenzie Davis, kind of wasted here), his best girl friend who often plays his wingman...wingwoman (?) when on the prowl. And Mikey soon falls back into bed with his wife in an attempt to patch things up. Not that any of these women are worth revealing their true feelings and breaking the pact. Not only does that show how little value placed on the ladies, but it takes the "guy code" to levels only seen in movies just like this.

But for all of the wrong messages sent and obvious plotting, That Awkward Moment does have a solid ear for funny dialogue and features a trio of easy lead performances. Teller, Jordan, and Efron are immensely likable on their own and they are downright potent as a trio, capable of making you forget every other problem the film has. The best moments come when they are all together, just hanging out in what appear to be ad-libbed riffs on Chestnut, orange penises, and taking a dump in a friend's house. One memorable scene has the guys, after downing some Viagra, being forced to go horizontal in order to pee in a toilet. Efron and Poots share little in the way of chemistry, and she seems especially out of place here. The film requires Ellie to be more quirky, but Poots is too refined of an actress for that and so she's just sort of unimpressive. Jordan gets the meatiest role of all, and the Fruitvale Station breakout finds something true in the emotional limbo Mike is trapped in. Teller is the jokester of the group and his presence comes naturally. He shares some nice moments with Davis, pulling from his romantic experience in a deeper relationship film like The Spectacular Now.

Of course the stakes are mighty low here, lower than the film's ambitions. When Jason screws up mightily and hurts Ellie in a way few women would easily forgive, there's never any doubt how things will turn out, or how simply everything will be resolved. Much like its leading guys, That Awkward Moment isn't built to commit to that level of emotional attachment. Consider it a date movie guys can attend without wanting to scream bloody murder.

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