If you were to interview an actor, it would not be surprising to learn from some that they prefer to play a supporting role rather than the lead. The reason they may give is that, when you are playing the lead, a lot more pressure is on your shoulders to carry the movie; while, if they are in a supporting role, the pressure is somewhat diminished. Zac Efron may not admit to this; however, judging by his performance in his newest movie, “That Awkward Moment”, opening today, January 31, it just may be the case.
“That Awkward Moment” can best be described as a sex comedy. Three buddies played by Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan make a pact that neither of them will get into a “relationship.” They will only collect a “roster” of women. Of course, that is when they all encounter women who put them to the test to keep their word to one another.
Zac Efron is listed as one of the producers of “That Awkward Moment” and it is easy to understand why he was interested in this project. It is a departure from the roles that he usually plays. If there was ever a role to help separate him from his “High School Musical” days, this is the movie to do it. Unfortunately, to date, whenever he plays a lead role in a movie he fails miserably to the point where you have to declare, “He can’t act!” When you see him in supporting roles like the ones he played in “New Year’s Eve” and in the upcoming comedy “Neighbors”, he does good work. He looks much more relaxed in those supporting roles and is very likable. For some reason, when he has a lead role, his acting becomes wooden, as if he knows how much pressure is on him to succeed
It should be noted that in all those starring roles, Zac Efron has not worked with a director of any notoriety. This should not mean that they are automatically bad directors, but so far none of them have found a way to get Zac to relax and that also goes for Tom Gormican, the writer and director of “That Awkward Moment”. This is Gormican’s first movie ever and his inexperience really shows. There are some funny moments in the movie and the audience who saw an advanced screening in Boca Raton laughed, but those moments were short lived and few and far in-between. There may be something in the future for the young director, but in this movie he could not even get a good performance out of Miles Teller who showed good acting chops in “The Spectacular Now” this past summer.
Besides a few laughs, the other shining light in this movie are the female co-stars. Imogen Poots ditches her English accent for the role of Zac Efron’s love interest. She looks stunningly beautiful in the movie and her performance as her character does require some range. Mackenzie Davis, who is Miles Teller’s love interest, is not well known as an actress yet, but she shows great poise and promise in “That Awkward Moment”.
Until he meets a director who really knows how to work with actors, Zac Efron should stick to playing supporting roles. He shows no charisma in “That Awkward Moment” even though his character is supposed to possess a ton of it. At one point his character says, “Who are you to assume I have any emotional capacity whatsoever?” As an actor, you would expect some and in this movie he gives nothing for his co-stars to work with. If the movie had a stronger cast and director, it may have been something memorable. Instead we get a predictable comedy and audiences can’t even enjoy the ride. It is rated R for language and partial nudity.