The Hollywood garbage dump that is January has its latest, steaming turd. It's That Awkward Moment (opening today), a tedious, hollow, unfunny and - at times - even offensive R-rated comedy from Tom Gormican.
Who is Tom Gormican, you may ask? He is the first-time writer and director of That Awkward Moment, whose only prior film credit came as a producer on Movie 43, perhaps the worst film ever created. You can't blame him for wanting to add to his filmography on top of that, but That Awkward Moment is more of a step side-ways.
Three friends played by Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, promise each other they will stay forever single once one of them is betrayed. There's no real reason for this promise to be made, but realism isn't one of this film's strong suits. Even their "bros before hoes" friendship rings phony, as Gormican leans on every machismo stereotype in the book while crafting these two-dimensional characters.
Jason (Efron) is the worst of them. He is a womanizer, but as the film rolls out, we learn he's more than that: He's a full-fledged, card-carrying a**hole. When his almost-girlfriend, Ellie (Imogen Poots), has a tragic occurrence in her life, Jason is bummed out, because you know, if he attends the funeral that would make it a "serious" relationship. There is no concern for the girl, no support shown or inklings of feeling portrayed. His "bros" are no help. Some friends.
Meanwhile, Daniel (Teller) gets into a relationship on the sly, with his female wing-man (a wing-woman?), Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). Mikey (Jordan) turns down a potential new love interest so that he can screw around with the girl that's dumped and cheated on him (Jessica Lucas).
Of course, none of these relationships echo anything substantial. But as with all comedies, ultimately That Awkward Moment should be judged by how funny it is. Ooh, this is awkward...I'm sorry to say that there isn't a single laugh-out-loud moment in the entire film.
Mikey masturbates with self-tanner and it turns his junk orange. Daniel is the supposed comic-relief of the trio, but he becomes annoying quickly. For the actors Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, it is a sad career turn, with both of them coming off of strong, buzz-worthy performances in their previous roles (Jordan in Fruitvale Station and Teller in The Spectacular Now). For Teller, this is his second major swing-and-miss in comedies over the past year, if you count 21 and Over (which I try not to). Elsewhere in the film, there are some seriously talented females - Mackenzie Davis, Imogen Poots and Addison Timlin specifically - that frankly deserve better than this.
That leaves Zac Efron. I understand the appeal, but here plays a character that should be impossible to get behind. He has no redeeming qualities and is the kind of guy that infuriates the "nice guys" of the world, because he is the jerk that usually ends up getting the girl.
It becomes more than awkward when you have to spend time watching a movie that doesn't entertain, delight, or otherwise engage you. But it becomes nearly unbearable when you find that there isn't anybody on-screen that even deserves your attention.
That Awkward Moment does bring with it one positive: With it's release, January has ended. Here's to the rest of 2014, as things can only get better from here.
Run Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas, Addison Timlin
Written & Directed by Tom Gormican (feature-film debut for both)
Opens locally on Friday, Jan 31, 2014 (check for show times).
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How to read Tom Santilli's "Star Ratings:"
- 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
- 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
- 3 Stars: The movie was just OK, leaves a lot to be desired
- 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
- 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time