PLOT: Three best buddies (Zac Efron, Miles Teller & Michael B. Jordan) vow to stay single and enjoy the prime of the bachelor lifestyles in New York City. This is complicated when each of the guys finds himself drawn into a serious relationship with a woman who just might be “the one.”
REVIEW: Star Zac Efron’s opening narration- played out overtop a rocking indie pop tune (natch)- tells us of an awkward moment in every relationship called “the so”, as in “so where do you think this is going?” I can relate. During my ninety-minute relationship with this film, I had my own awkward moment, where I wondered “so, where’s this going?” That awkward moment was within about the first five minutes, leaving eighty-five awkward moments to go.
It’s not that this movie is especially awful. It’s not. Director Tom Gormican has made a relatively colorful, easy to digest comedy, but it’s just all so familiar and generically “rom-com-y”. The only thing that slightly distinguishes this from the pack is that it focuses on a bunch of young dudes on the prowl, making this a kind of male SEX & THE CITY from the “hey bro” set. Of course, ladies will be drawn in too, thanks to male stars Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan’s constant concessions to the female fans by taking the shirts off pretty frequently (at least once every ten minutes or so each). Otherwise, this is the same old thing where the guys can’t commit despite meeting Ms. Right, but then- bam (!) can commit after all after having some serious “bro-time” with their pals. Been there, done that.
The lack of originality could be forgiven if THAT AWKWARD MOMENT at least felt somewhat fresh or – more importantly- had been funny. All of the jokes here are stale, with the idea of humor being Miles Teller’s (slumming it big time) character frequently using Efron’s bathroom to take a dump in, much to Zac’s chagrin (oh the wit!!!). Zac’s pretty much the lead here, with his aging party boy- the renter of a sprawling Manhattan loft that looks like it could belong to Bruce Wayne- falling hard for Imogen Poots’ Ellie as, like, the one girl who he thinks won’t fall for his charms. The fact that she’s in bed with him by the end of their first date proves otherwise.
Efron’s actually not bad. He’s grown as an actor since his HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL days, as makes for an appealing lead. He just needs the role that’s right for him, and he has nothing to do here other than look man-pretty (which he does). Teller- who’s been amazing in recent Sundance discoveries like WHIPLASH and THE SPECTACULAR NOW- is wasted just as much as he was in 21 & OVER as Efron’s immature party-hardy colleague (the two design book covers, which I’m pretty sure nowadays in only a job in the movies), although his love interest, Mackenzie Davis is appealing. That’s pretty much the case with Poots as well, who’s so perfect in every way (from bringing scotch to a boys night and playing X-Box all night) that you wonder why Efrom doesn’t immediately drop to his knees and beg her to be his wife within the first five minutes.
As much as Teller seems wasted, FRUITVALE STATION’s Michael B. Jordan is virtually left high and dry. Of the trio, he’s the only one with any baggage, with his wife having just left him due to the long hours he puts in as an E.R doctor, but his problems are forgotten in favor of Efron and Teller. At least the three guys have enough chemistry that they seem like they could actually be friends, even if at least two of the three are improbably handsome. Too bad that camaraderie isn’t used, with too many corny jokes, and ultra-cheesy scenes of the three guys walking down picturesque NYC streets carrying matching coffee cups, looking like they walked out of a J-Crew catalogue. All three actors are better than this.
Again though, THAT AWKWARD MOMENT isn’t an especially awful film, just an especially bland one. A movie like this seems designed for a quick payout on the basis of Efron’s female fans. Otherwise, it doesn’t say anything about a billion other rom-coms already have- basically that living a commitment free lifestyle is bad, bad, BAD, and that cozy long-term relationships are the way to go. Whodathunkit???