Despite one charmer of a performance and one particularly hilarious party scene, “That Awkward Moment” is forgettable, a so-so time-filler you'd discover on late-night cable and later have a dickens of a time remembering the title, even the next day.
The Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller comedy manages to distinguish itself by taking the well-traveled rom-com out for some off-road riding. Instead of focusing on the hookups and hang-ups of women — the usual offerings in this genre — “Awkward” focuses on the dating predicaments of a trio of New York guys in their 20s. Sounds like the flip side to HBO's “Girls”? Not a chance. Despite being a little raunchy, this film plays it too safe.
What buoys “Awkward” are the performances of two of its rising stars, “Fruitvale Station's” Jordan — who gives the film its heart and steals every scene he's in — and “The Spectacular Now's” Teller, who earns decent laughs. They're better than the hit-and-miss script, especially the charismatic Jordan. The same can't be said of Efron, who pulls off a few comic moments, but still remains so overearnest in the dramatic parts you can't help but wince.
The ultimate failing, though, is the film's premise, which forces characters to act ridiculously just because of the inane plot device. As the production notes reveal, director and screenwriter Tom Gormican drew inspiration from Shakespeare's “Love's Labour's Lost.” However, his belabored contrivance just isn't credible: that three best buds would make a pact to not take their relationships from casual dating to the next level after one of them (Jordan) finds himself newly single — his wife is having an affair and wants a divorce.
Naturally, the stereotypical dudes — studly player Jason (Efron), uncouth funny guy Daniel (Teller) and sensitive sweetheart Mikey (Jordan) — struggle to keep the bet.
Jason, the least interesting of the three and the central character, meets his “match” in Ellie (a sexy Imogen Poots) at a bar. Meanwhile, Daniel connects with an opposites-attract friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), and Mikey, well, let's avoid any spoilers here, since there are few to be had.
Despite the noble intentions to make a rom-com from the man's perspective, “That Awkward Moment” winds up feeling old-school. The quality and standards of cable TV shows such as “Girls” have upped the game for movies like this. And even though “Awkward” has its moments, it winds up lagging behind more daring endeavors on TV right now. The film industry had better keep up.'That Awkward Moment'
Rating: R (for sexual content and language throughout)
Cast: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller
Director: Tom Gormican
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes