John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

That Awkward Moment

Genre: Comedy

Director: Tom Gormican

Cast: Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: January 31st, 2014

Not since The Hangover: Part 3 have the bonds of male friendship had so many dire effects on innocent bystanders as they do in That Awkward Moment. The new comedy features many similarities to that Bradley Cooper blockbuster including characters that  are so despicable that it’s hard to fathom liking any one of them, let alone all three.

Zac Efron plays Jason, a man-child whose view of relationships is as skewed as his perspective of what being a friend really means. Early on, he introduces his “roster,” a listing he keeps of the girls he hooks up with on a regular basis. He’s not in a relationship with any of these women; he just enjoys casual hook-ups and bouncing from girl to girl without committing to any of them. His best friend– the charismatic Daniel (Miles Teller)– looks up to him while his other friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) is a young doctor who has been married for several years.

As the story begins, Mikey’s marriage –the only stable relationship this trio actually has — falls apart, when his wife admits to having an affair. Instead of supporting their friend in a caring fashion though, Jason and Daniel make a pact with him  to remain single for as long as possible. Of course, this isn’t a sacrifice for Jason and Daniel because the only long-term relationship they’ve ever been in is with the countless hair and body products they use.

What starts out as an open-ended premise (three bros spending time together) collapses quickly as the audience learns more about these detestable characters. Daniel, the most cartoonish one, opens a night out with his friends by giving them Viagra while pretending that he’s offering mints. Wait, didn’t The Hangover start out with the cartoonish character slipping his friends drugs too?

That’s only one of the ideas writer/director Tom Gormican (a co-producer of Movie 43, if that tells you anything) took from that comedy. The other big idea he took is that male friends can be obnoxious and cruel to the people around them but cordial with each other and that audiences will still like them. Admittedly, the characters in the original Hangover were quite funny but as that trilogy continued, those friends became less and less appealing. The men in That Awkward Moment start out as unappealing and only become more repellant as the feature continues.

Not only are these characters mean-spirited human beings, they are also some of the dumbest people I’ve seen onscreen for a while. When Jason begins dating a naïve girl named Ellie (Imogen Poots)— and by dating her, I mean  he spends a few hours with her before hooking up with someone else— she invites him to a formal dress-up dinner. There is absolutely no mistaking the invitation for anything else but Jason stupidly believes it’s a costume party so he wears a vulgar and embarrassing outfit. In another example of how dumb these characters are, Daniel eventually begins seeing someone and decides to have sex with her in the bathroom during Thanksgiving dinner. Eventually, of course, Daniel’s two best friends find their way into that same bathroom for no explicable reason.

Hilarity ensues. Actually, it never does.

I wish there were more redeeming qualities in this film or that some of the relationships felt real, especially Mikey’s stunningly superficial relationship with his soon to be ex. I also wish that Miles Teller, Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan– three young and talented actors –had been given better material. But overall, I wish that That Awkward Moment only lasted a second, instead of the 94 minutes of dreck that compose this atrocious feature.

Review by: John Hanlon