You know that awkward moment when a comedy is not particularly funny and you need to sit through watching several poor attempts at gags in an atmosphere of jarring silence? Well that is precisely how I felt when watching Zac Efron and co.’s latest ‘brom-com’ (a male centred romantic comedy).
This charmless affair teams Efron up with Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller as a group of New York twenty-somethings who agree to stay single after Jordan’s Mikey splits up from his wife. However, gradually each begins to back out of this promise as they discover new love.
Director and screenwriter Tom Gormican, whose previous credits solely comprise of co-producing Movie 43, presents us with a tale that seems to believe that it is outrageous and pushing the boundaries of the romcom by shifting the focus to guys. However, if you think back to romantic comedies over the past few years like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Crazy Stupid Love, The Five Year Engagement, and I Give It a Year – the focus has been evenly split between both genders, if not being slightly male-centric.
Perhaps attempting to change this status quo is where That Awkward Moment goes wrong with film generally believing that ‘males = toilet humour.’ We all like a bit of crass humour every so often (need I mention the likes of the Bridesmaids bridal shop scene), but That Awkward Moment takes it to such a basic and unfunny level – one of the key gags if Miles Teller’s character taking a shit in Efron’s apartment – something that Gormican goes back to around five or six times. Some of the slightly more amusing gags have already been worn thin through the film’s promotional materials resulting in large sections where there are little to no laughs.
However, worse than the misguided attempts at humour it is the film’s protagonists that make That Awkward Moment just so unlikeable. These are truly vapid characters – none more so than Efron’s Jason – a man who does not seem to understand the basic principles of human decency, refusing to go to Ellie’s (the girl he is seeing – played by Imogen Poots) father’s funeral as he does not want to give the impression they are dating – of course, I see the logic in that. Combine this with a narrative that follows every convention and plot twist of the genre and you get a glimpse at exactly how tired That Awkward Moment is.
Whilst Efron projects a square-jawed handsomeness and a forced charisma it is not enough to carry That Awkward Moment in a sincere and engaging manner. Miles Teller has little to do apart from sit on a toilet or make gags about screwing Grandmothers, whilst Imogen Poots is stuck performing her ‘hipster girl that you would avoid at a party’ act. One of the few redeeming elements of Gormican’s film is Michael B. Jordan as one of the few characters gifted with a soul. The actor is the most competent in regards to handling the film’s gags being the only one with a realistic sense of comic timing and natural sincerity.
Not particularly amusing or romantic That Awkward Moment is still likely to be a hit for couples on date night, despite its vapid characters, formulaic narrative and largely flat performances.
29th January 2014 (UK) 31st January 2014 (USA)
Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller,Imogen Poots