THAT AWKWARD MOMENT
***1/2 (out of 5)
January 31, 2014
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
Studio: Focus Features
Directed by: Tom Gormican
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
The advertising for “That Awkward Moment” left me wondering something. No, I wasn’t wondering how crazy the movie could get or how raunchy things could become. Instead, I was wondering how long it was going to take Zac Efron to shake off his Disney brat roots and become a regular grown-up film actor.
It’s not like he hasn’t tried. After playing a cougar love interest twice (with Michelle Pfeiffer and later Nicole Kidman), but only being involved in one golden shower between them, then accidentally dropping a condom during a red carpet walk, it’s clear this isn’t every tween’s favorite dancing basketball player.
While his previous attempts (including the cougar-fueled “New Year’s Eve” and “The Paperboy,” along with the fiercely terrible “Charlie St. Cloud” and the drippy romance “The Lucky One”), he might have a shot with “That Awkward Moment.” This actually gives him a chance to play a more realistic, if not foul-mouthed, guy in his 20s. I hope the guy makes it because he’s a decent actor. Being flanked by Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan in the film certainly doesn’t hurt.
“That Awkward Moment” tells the story of three guys in Manhattan who, after a series of bad relationships, make a Three Stooges style pact to not have a lasting relationship. The key is to enjoy their promiscuous love lives in their 20s before settling down. However, as each man navigates the sea of love, all three end up starting a more mature, long-term relationship.
If you watch the commercials and trailers for the film, you’ll be expecting a non-stop string of dick and fart jokes, outrageous sexcapades and enough swear words to make a sailor blush. However, there’s actually more to it than that.
Once you strip away the raunchy guyspeak and the crass commentary, there’s some real relationship drama going on in all three guys’ lives. I wouldn’t say this is a great date movie, but it plays out well as a decent relationship film, as long as you’re not on that first date and worried you’ll likely offend your partner.
Over the years, we have been treated to raunch rom coms and other exercises in extreme taste. Compared to these films, “That Awkward Moment” is actually quite tame. We live in a bizarre world of gender backlash where movies like “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat” are heralded for allowing the women to have their potty mouths and crass humor. However, there’s a double standard now when a guy-centric relationship film features body humor and ribald comedy.
Still, that’s not what this movie is about, and maybe that is what’s perplexing some folks. “That Awkward Moment” uses the raunchy nature of modern relationship discussions to frame a realistic, sometimes (dare I say) awkward story with a bit of heart.
In some ways, “That Awkward Moment” reminds me of last year’s “21 and Over” (also featuring Miles Teller), which suffered ire from critics for being too much like the truly despicable “Project X.” (For the record, it wasn’t. There was a real grounded story in that film, wrapped up in a “Revenge of the Nerds” or “Porky’s” type of sex comedy.
In this sense, “That Awkward Moment” doesn’t pull its punches, but it’s a lot more than just a string of dick and fart jokes. That hook will only last for about a third of the film. This movie shows guys in their vulnerable stages, during which obnoxious behavior becomes a defense mechanism.
In the end, I laughed at a lot of what happened in “That Awkward Moment,” but I also was invested in the characters, wanting to see how the stories got resolved.