There are definitely things to like about writer/director Tom Gormican's That Awkward Moment, though you may find yourself having a difficult finding them amidst all of the things about the film that you will find absolutely maddening and disappointing.
The first thing to find truly maddening about That Awkward Moment is that, quite simply, the wrong actor was cast as the lead character of Jason, a graphic designer and guy's guy who avoids commitment and has no problem bedding down woman after woman without a semblance of commitment. As played by Zac Efron, Jason is essentially an unlikable guy who is supposed to attract our sympathy because, of course, he's really a good guy underneath it all. When Mikey (Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station) gets dumped by his wife, the solution becomes that Mikey, Jason, and buddy Daniel (Miles Teller, The Spectacular Now) decide to swear off committed relationships.
If you haven't already figured out where all of this is going, then you probably found Smurfs 2 fresh and original. All three eventually start falling for their respective women while also trying to honor their commitments to one another. Not unexpectedly, doing so becomes increasingly difficult.
Will the men grow up? Will the women wait around?
Which guy is going to end up having the meltdown?
There's still no denying that Zac Efron has a strong screen presence, but he still doesn't serve up enough emotional depth to make Jason a compelling guy. Jordan's Mikey, on the other hand, is downright sterile. If you're one of the few who bothered to show up for Jordan's fantastic performance in Fruitvale Station, then it'll be doubly traumatic just how muted his performance feels here.
On the other hand, Teller and a couple of the supporting players, most notably Imogen Poots and Mackenzie Davis, are the only ones who seem to really rise above the material while also, it would seem, getting at the essence of what Gormican was really going for here. Teller, who got well deserved kudos for his performance in The Spectacular Now in 2013 and just won raves at Sundance for Whiplash, seems to capture a genuine awkwardness with his character that works nicely and makes you keep watching him even when everything else in the film disappoints.
That Awkward Moment isn't so much a disaster, though I have no doubt that many critics will proclaim it so, but moreso simply a disappointment considering the talent at hand and the kernels of a good idea that exist here somewhere between the raunch and the film's genuine heart.
Somewhere in the middle of That Awkward Moment is a genuinely good film. Unfortunately, all we end up getting are a bunch of awkward moments.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic