First-time moviemaker Tom Gormican steps up to bat with a directorial debut almost as strong as his script. The only thing keeping this film from being a game-changer in the romantic comedy genre is that it plays it safe with its casting. And although the three male leads (and their three respective leading ladies) do a good job with what they are given in terms of a screenplay, it is quite obvious that a few of them are simply reading the lines and going through the motions of what they believe to be an easy paycheck. That Awkward Moment never falls flat, though, despite its predictability, and rather embraces its mediocrity in terms of chemistry. In other words, it just goes with the flow and hopes for the best, much like the characters within its frames.
It is obvious from the first minute of the film that one person is completely and utterly out of place: Star Zac (High School Musical, The Paperboy) Efron turns in an obnoxious, overly-cocky, and incredibly wooden performance. A better actor would have made him sympathetic, rather than flat-out deplorable. His failed attempt at chemistry with Imogen (Fright Night, V for Vendetta) Poots is apparent throughout, but her acting chops and quirky charm more than make up for his lack of delivery. Michael B. (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) Jordan and Jessica (Cloverfield, The Covenant) Lucas both offer up a stereotypical-yet-safe performance as the "good guy" in the trio of males in their late 20s living the dream in New York City and his soon-to-be ex-wife he's trying desperately to woo away from her current conquest respectively. But the film's strongest on-screen duo in terms of comedic timing and chemistry is that of the mile-a-minute jokester Miles (21 & Over, Project X) Teller and relative newcomer Mackenzie Davis. The two shine in each and every scene they share, and Teller has finally found his place in Hollywood as the go-to lovable jackass character.
The script is by far the movie's greatest strength. And aside from a should-have-been fatal miscasting of the lead actor, the film surprisingly flows well from beginning to end. The predictability aspect is to be expected with such a genre, but the marketing plan behind this early 2014 release was sneaky: A romantic comedy geared toward juvenile men who love poop and sex jokes. Granted, there are quite a few of those (most of which are actually quite funny), but at its core, it is the story about 20-somethings finding their way in a scary time that is adulthood. And, like any and all stories like this that have come before it, the opening monologue asks, "So... Where is this going?" The answer is simple. Straight toward a feel-good ending that happens in movies where everyone is clever, no one is ugly, and the good guys get the good girls and the jerks grow up and become better people. If this sounds better than reality, check it out. And if it doesn't, enjoy the endless string of inappropriate and uncomfortable social situations brought on by the antics of three overgrown man-children. Either way, it's a fun ride.