Zac Efron as Jason
Miles Teller as Daniel
Michael B. Jordan as Mikey
Imogen Poots as Ellie
Mackenzie Davis as Chelsea
Jessica Lucas as Vera
Addison Timlin as Alana
Josh Pais as Fred
Evelina Turen as Sophie
Karen Ludwig as Mrs. Rose
Tina Benko as Ellie’s Mom
Joseph Adams as Ellie’s Dad
John Rothman as Chelsea’s Father
Barbara Garrick as Chelsea’s Mother
Directed by Tom Gormican
Jason, Daniel and Mikey (Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan) have been friends for a long time, each with their own opinions about dating and relationships they constantly share with each other. After Mikey and his wife have a separation, the three of them agree to remain single together? but in movies, things don’t always work out as planned.
“That Awkward Moment” is a strange anomaly in the world of “relationship dramedies” – or whatever you want to call them. Like so many movies, it’s basically a bunch of young people dealing with love and dating and relationships, to the point where Tom Gormican’s directorial debut at first comes across like one of those movies based on a relationship advice book ala “He’s Just Not That Into You,” only this one being from a young male perspective.
It opens with Zac Efron’s character Jason talking about something called “The So” when the woman you’re having sex with asks where the relationship is going. Honestly, it’s not exactly the best way to start a movie that one assumes is targeting young women, possibly former “High School Musical” fans, who are going to see a movie based solely on Efron’s presence. Let’s just say that Jason is not exactly a charmer, and although I’ve never personally had any direct opinions about Efron either positive or negative–he was pretty funny in Josh Radnor’s “Liberal Arts”–I can see diehard fans of his not liking this character.
But the movie’s not just about Jason and more about the bond of these three friends who’ve known each other for a long time, each of them going through their own issues with relationship and/or dating. One night, Jason (Efron) meets the perfect woman at a bar, and he ends up taking Ellie (Imogen Poots) back to her place and after a bit of a communication problems, it seems like he’s getting into something serious. Daniel (Miles Teller) is similar in that he’s not even remotely interested in relationships, using his best friend and “wing-woman” Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) to introduce him to women at bars. Mikey is a young doctor, married, who learns his wife has cheated on him and wants a divorce. That’s the set-up and the movie’s basically about whether or not any of these guys will stay single or get into a relationship that works.
Possibly one of the hardest things to adjust to is that all three guys act like they’re college fratboys though it’s clear they’ve already graduated and are out there in the world working–Mikey is a doctor after all–so that rings somewhat false. Efron certainly seems to be playing a darker role and more serious than we’ve seen him, but it’s the humor Teller brings to the mix and the general rapport between the three guys that tends to keep the movie from falling into romantic comedy drudgery when the plot goes to obvious places.
When Gormican’s comedy brings the raunch, there are some generally funny visual gags that play well with an audience and Efron seems game to do whatever it takes to get a laugh even if it embarrasses himself. Maybe some of those gags are a little low-brow, but they actually do a lot to lighten the mood, offer some laughs and helps you to like the characters more, since some of the things that come out of their mouth are pretty questionable. Although the movie’s mostly about the three guys and Jason’s relationship with Ellie–Imogen Poots is certainly more interesting in this role than some of the others we’ve seen her play–you’ll want to pay special attention to MacKenzie Davis as Chelsea. There’s something quite special about her that’s hard to put into words, but we’ll be seeing more of her in bigger roles in the future.
Ultimately, the running subplot involving Michael B. Jordan trying to reconcile with his wife after she sleeps with her lawyer is the weakest and least interesting of the three subplots. Also, like too many recent movies, Gormican overuses the Facebook thing too much. Granted, it is something that’s very much part of many of our lives, especially when it comes to relationships, and we do deal with it every day, but do we really need to be reminded of it in a movie?
For a raunchy R-rated comedy, Gormican’s debut is surprisingly sophisticated at times, and he even manages to achieve a certain level of John Hughes circa “Some Kind of Wonderful” by the end. Sure, maybe the blooper reel end credits are unnecessary after that, but the movie does know how to deliver on the laughs while still being true to its primary M.O. and that’s sometimes hard to do.
The Bottom Line:
A bromantic comedy that looks at relationships from a male perspective without reinventing any wheels, “That Awkward Moment” sometimes comes off as uneven due to a semi-convoluted plot, but the cast brings their all to the material and eventually it does win you over.