‘Awkward Moment’ provides laughs

Posted March 18, 2014


“That Awkward Moment” is exactly what the title says: awkward.

Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 8.30.58 PMBut not painfully awkward, just enough to make the audience laugh at the hopelessness of the characters trying to find or avoid love.

At many points, it’s not clear which. It is the story of three buddies, Jason, Mikey and Daniel, who make a pact to stay single and all of the adventures that ensue. The movie is vulgar and definitely intended for a mature audience in need of a carefree hour and a half.

Jason, a shaggy Zac Efron, is the worst player of the friends. He is the ringleader of the rebellion against relationships. His apartment is the stereotypical bachelor pad with the mattress on the floor, pictures of women with their legs spread and a cutout of a fist pointing its middle finger. Efron also produced the movie.

People who appreciated “Fruitvale Station” should not come expecting to see the same Michael B. Jordan.  The story is obviously much different and Mikey has very little of the smoothness that Jordan used to endear audiences in his role as Oscar Grant.

Mikey contributes to the awkwardness of the movie because he lost his swagger when he lost his wife to divorce. Throughout the movie, he is wallowing in self-pity avoiding the fun his friends are having.

Mikey is so puzzled and hurt because he thought he did everything right, “checked all the right boxes,” as he puts it. He went to college, married a beautiful woman at the fresh age of 23, and is now a successful doctor. Mikey’s character is complicated because he should be commended for trying to work things out with his wife, but the movie portrays him as a man emotionally whipped by his woman.

Daniel is probably the most awkward of the three. Played by Miles Teller, he is the least physically attractive, but he tries to make up for it in wit. His friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) joins the guys at the bar and sets up Daniel’s hook-ups for him. Chelsea is essentially “one of the guys,” but there is definitely chemistry between her and Daniel because they know exactly what each other likes.

The movie begins with a voice-over from Jason saying how he is sitting on a bench at 2:00 in the morning in the bleeping freezing New York winter. He stops explaining his situation and instead leads the audience back in time where a girl is breaking up with him. He is surprised only because he didn’t realize they were dating in the first place.

As the movie progresses, each friend’s relationships become more and more complicated. Jason, who works as a designer of book covers, tries to maintain his independence but what was meant to be a one-night-stand turns into something more. A beautiful author named Ellie (Imogen Poots) sparks Jason’s interest, which tests his commitment to the pact.

As is expected, there is a lot of womanizing in the movie. Jason confirms gender roles when Ellie lets him sleep with her and she confesses that she was planning on making him work and wait. He jokes by saying he was going to wait too, but then he remembered he’s the man of the relationship.

Like most movies of this genre, stereotypes of lustful men with no self-control are confirmed. But the girls play into the games, so both are at fault here.

The movie takes a very modern approach to love. It shows that social media affects how relationships are defined in the tech era. Mikey realizes his divorce is real when he sees that his wife’s status changes from “married” to nothing. The guys frequently check Facebook to scope out the women they are pursuing. And the friends rag each other for their interactions on social media.

Overall, the story is fairly predictable. All three friends lie to each other in order to keep the pact and it all blows up on Thanksgiving Day. The fallout is uneventful, but for the most part the end is satisfying.

If this movie is trying to teach its audience anything, it is to define the relationship and stick to it.

  • Title: “That Awkward Moment”
  • Release date: Jan. 31, 2014, Focus Features
  • Starring: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller
  • Director: Tom Gormican
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • MPAA Rating: R