That Awkward Moment Review
Zac Efron is back on the big screen in That Awkward Moment (15), a bromantic comedy that documents the dating lives of three friends.
What’s it about? When Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) is left devastated by his unfaithful wife, he and his two buddies (Efron and Miles Teller) vow to stay single for as long as possible. However, their pledge of brotherhood comes into jeopardy when they each secretly fall in love.
Verdict: Writer and director Tom Gormican’s movie debut, That Awkward Moment falls short of the standards set by other male-buddy orientated films such as The Hangover or American Pie series. The film’s trailer and accompanying synopsis of ‘how men deal with ‘that awkward moment”, meaning the moment when a girl asks where the relationship is going, has had it playfully dubbed by some as ‘a chick flick for guys’. However, That Awkward Moment isn’t really about, well, that awkward moment – or what Efron’s character Jason refers to as the ‘So’. Aside from a few momentary references to this conversation, Gormican seems to have forgotten the crux of the film and instead much of the 94-minute run time is dedicated to awkward jokes and awkward cast interaction – without an ‘awkward moment’ in sight.
The issues begin with the character set ups – it’s clear here that Mikey is supposed to be the sensible one, pining for his wife and unable to even think of being with another girl. Daniel (Teller) is the ‘funny’ one who hides any shot of a real relationship with real emotions under a barrage of uncomfortable jokes. Then there is Jason who is lazily introduced as a heartless playboy in the brief dialogue that accompanies the opening scenes, however, once the film gets going it is easy to forget that he is supposed to be a player with much of the film focusing on his loyal infatuation with Ellie (Imogen Poots). Jason’s relationship with Ellie goes against the ladies’ man facade; a facade which seems forgotten in its entirety until towards the end of the film when he has a ‘revelation’ that he needs to stop being such a womanizer – needless to say this was a very confusing and random revelation that only makes the audience realise just how misrepresented Jason’s character had been throughout.
Despite the lazy character development, the film’s biggest problem actually comes with the complete lack of chemistry between the male cast. It almost feels as though you’re watching the audition process rather than the final product as the cast deliver their lines as if they’re still reading from the script with no sense of natural character interaction. As a result, the comedic timing is completely off throughout most of the film, making a lot of the jokes fall flat – awkward? Absolutely. But perhaps not in the way that was intended.
It isn’t all entirely bad; one of That Awkward Moment’s saving graces comes from the refreshing lead female characters, Ellie and Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). Shying away from the stereo-typically emotional and clingy girls that are found in male-orientated films, these girls are likable, relatable, and realistic depictions of contemporary twenty-something girls. Although sometimes a little too desperate to be quirky (at times Poots attempted to channel Zooey Deschanel circa 500 Days of Summer to the extent of parody), it was still a step forward in female representations for comedies of this kind, with Mackenzie Davis giving a particularly warm and genuine performance.
All in all, That Awkward Moment is just a little bit too confused. Gormican appears to have had a vague idea when writing the story but didn’t devote the time or energy into fleshing the characters out, particularly the protagonist Jason. If the male leads had better chemistry then the film would probably be salvageable and there are occasional moments of humour in the script that only get lost in translation through their delivery.
Final words: Nothing says ‘That Awkward Moment’ more than when a film’s cast is so lacking in chemistry that even the blooper reel fails to rouse laughter from the audience! That Awkward Moment has potential that would have shone through if more time been spent in developing the story and casting actors that were better able to connect with one another.
That Awkward Moment is in cinemas from 29 January 2014!