BY LAUREN NISBET
For a funny feel-good boy-friendly romcom, That Awkward Moment seems to have all the essential elements. It’s got sexy leading man Zac Efron, balanced out by enough raunchy humour to convince your boyfriend that it isn’t a chick flick. It’s got Miles Teller being adorable and hilarious as usual, plus it’s set in New York, plus it’s got a cute but not too cute premise. Unfortunately, the execution of these winning elements falls short of an entertaining cinematic experience.
Jason and Daniel, who are basically frat boys who somehow landed prestigious jobs as book cover designers (which seems completely random and unlikely, especially considering they treat their job as a complete joke–twenty-somethings do not land those kinds of positions and then complain that they’re not doing what they love. That just doesn’t happen. If you’re telling us this is a character who doesn’t have his shit together, make him a pizza delivery guy, not a book designer, I mean really), are masters at playing the field, cycling through a “roster” of single, attractive, no-strings-attached ladies on a regular basis. When their best friend Mikey finds out his wife has been cheating, all three make a pact to stay single and enjoy their crazy wild lives as bachelors together for as long as possible. Inevitably, each guy ends up finding the one girl he is meant to be with, effectively ruining the pact. As they try to hide their love lives from each other, hilarity ensues.
I should preface this by saying that I have no real issues with stereotypical boy humour. I won’t turn this into a rant about women being treated as objects and the insensitivity of men in general–if you’re looking for an essay on the perils of the male gaze, this is not the review for you. In general, I’m happy to accept a stupid guy film for what it is–not a cultural statement, but a cheap joke, playing on the simple fact that guys just don’t understand women. There is tons of potential for hilarity in the simple interactions between men and women, and I am ready and willing to enjoy it. But That Awkward Moment just does not deliver.
First of all, Jason (Efron) is too much of a jerk. He is completely unsympathetic–from mistaking the “girl of his dreams” for a hooker, to booty-calling another girl on their first date, to skipping her dad’s funeral–where exactly are we supposed to see the charm in this character? Why on earth is it okay for Ellie to fall for him? Answer: It is not. This is not cute. This is sad and annoying.
Also the “serious” story of Mikey and his wife makes absolutely no sense. First she’s leaving him, then she’s having sex with him, then she’s complaining that they never talked about having kids, then she’s saying she doesn’t love him anymore–it is inconsistent and weird. You shouldn’t have to use your brain when watching this kind of a movie–I am watching for pure comedic escapism and the reasoning behind this breakup is just too confusing. Keep it simple people, it’s really not that hard.
The moral of this story seems to be that boys are idiots, which could have been a great moral at the end of a hilarious story, but in this case I was left rolling my eyes and shaking my head. If you’re going to make an obvious point, at least do it in a clever way.
Good for a few cheap laughs (mostly at Miles Teller clearly improvising his funniest lines), but not a comedy we’ll be quoting for years to come. In fact, it’s probably better forgotten.
A media studies grad and pop culture junkie currently navigating the strange and mysterious world of corporate communications, Lauren spends most of her time buried under an ever-growing pile of TBR novels. Based in Toronto, she can be found at the local theatre every Tuesday for cheap movie night. Follow her on Twitter @laurenxnisbet