There is a moment in “That Awkard Moment” when Daniel(Miles Teller) is going to run and tell his girlfriend exactly how he feels. Jason(Zac Efron) eggs him on, telling him to make a scene when he does it; make a public spectacle. When he runs out of the coffee shop(and no one in the film seems to be without a cup of coffee), excited with his newfound revelatory courage, he’s struck by a cab.
Fortunately, the accident saves the audience from having to witness more than one cliched scene where a major character has to ruin an bunch of extras’ evenings by publicly professing their love. If “That Awkward Moment” could have sidestepped some of the more blasé storytelling, it would have earned a slightly better grade.
Zac Efron has to come to terms with the fact that he just may not be able to carry a movie all by himself. Ironically, Jason’s story seems to get the most screen time, but Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan have both proven themselves to be better actors within the last year. No one could give Teller a pass on “21 & Over”(or “Project X” for that matter), but he showed much more depth in the high school drama “The Spectacular Now.” Jordan played Oscar Grant, the true-life victim of a train station shooting in “Fruitvale Station", in a role that showed no judgement and portrayed a man who was flawed yet likable.
Jordan plays Mikey, a doctor who thinks he is a happily married man until he comes home to find his wife meeting with her lawyer. Mikey’s story is by far the most emotional. Daniel’s relationship with Chelsea might be the sweetest. And Jason’s relationship with Ellie(Imogen Poots) might take center stage, but it’s also the weakest. After they meet at a local NYC bar, Jason goes back to Ellie’s place. When he wakes up early in the morning, he sees all the signs that she might be a prostitute, so he quickly sneaks out before she wakes up, since, as he states, he doesn’t have ‘hooker money.’
“That Awkward Moment” isn’t as sleazy as it sounds, and at least the female characters are all written as strong, independent women. The only one who seems to have some questionable ethics is Jason, and a rather out-of-sorts scene late in the film somewhat brings this to light. Jason just seems to stand there, like his good looks are supposed to just smooth everything over. And all he has to do is open his mouth and apologize.
While they are watching a tall, dark and handsome piano player, Daniel laments to Chelsea that it’s not fair: someone can’t be good looking and have a talent. That’s exactly the problem with rooting for someone like Jason - he doesn’t really represent the everyman with Zac Efron’s good looks. “That Awkward Moment” is pretty bearable as a romantic comedy, but it’s one that lands in that awkward position: is it worth seeing on the big screen? The viewer probably won’t feel like they wasted their money, but this certainly leans toward rental territory. A strong rental, but a rental nonetheless.