'Moment' less than skillful as comedy
“So” is how “That Awkward Moment” begins every “awkward moment.” As in “So, what are we doing here?” Or “So, where do you see this relationship going?”
That's the dating man's lesson of “That Awkward Moment,” that “For girls, nothing good ever comes after ‘So.' ” It's a chatty romantic comedy in the modern mode — rude, nude and crude — with some funny, writerly riffs on relationships and how to avoid them.
There are laughs, in the lead couple's “meet cute” moment in a bar, when she (Imogen Poots) trots out that fortune-telling trick common to sex-obsessed sitcoms: rebuffing a suitor by forecasting an entire failed relationship based on how a guy is dressed, the manner of his approach and his lame pick-up line.
But the movie, like star Zac Efron and writer-director Tom Gormican, never lets us forget that it's trying too hard, straining to spit out sexy, silly patter.
Efron, Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now”) and Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”) play three New York pals who vow, when the doctor of the trio (played by Jordan) is dumped by his wife, to stay single and enjoy the mingling. Together, they will build “a roster” of booty calls. And the moment a woman starts “the talk” with “So,” they'll bail. That's the plan.
Which all of them ignore. Jason (Efron), a smart-aleck designer of book covers, falls for this cute one-night-stand, Ellie (Poots), who works for a publishing house. The hilarious chatterbox Daniel (Teller) starts to realize that his gorgeous, able-bodied lady wingman (Mackenzie Davis) is all the woman he'd ever need.
And Mikey (Jordan) clings to the hope that his cheating lawyer wife (Jessica Lucas) will hear his reasoned, “We checked off all the boxes” appeal to maintain their partnership masquerading as a marriage.
“That Awkward Moment” is a writers comedy, and it's easy to see why this cast was drawn to Gormican's script.
Efron never quite holds his own with the much-funnier Teller, whose swagger and confidence always seem to be compensating for his awareness that he's nobody's idea of a hunk. Poots, a British actress whose real accent only pops up in the outtakes at the end, is game but never quite achieves “You had me at ‘hello.' ” Jordan has few demands made on him, dramatically.
“That Awkward Moment” is overfamiliar, a movie that plays like recycled, R-rated outtakes from “Rules of Engagement” or “How I Met Your Mother.”
Roger Moore is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Foxcatcher’ filmmaker Miller drawn to odd story
- Review: Witherspoon loses her vanity and herself in ‘Wild’
- Review: Wallis, Jamie and Jay Z bring ‘Annie’ back to life
- Review: This ‘Museum’ piece is as funny as a tomb
- DVD reviews: ‘This is Where I Leave You,’ ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ and ‘The Skeleton Twins’
- ‘Hobbit’ tinkering is in a good cause, film creators say
- DVD reviews: ‘22 Jump Street,’ ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ and ‘It Happened One Night’