By Gary Murray

Starring Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan and Imogen Poots

Written and directed by Tom Gormican

Running time 93 min

MPAA Rating R

Selig Film Rating Cable


January is usually a dumping round of cinema, the time when the vaults are emptied to make way for the next year films.  Like those year-end clearance sales, the films of January are the left-over works waiting to finally be sent out into the cinematic world.  That Awkward Moment is another film squeaking into that dead season of cinema.

The story of That Awkward Moment is laid out in a statement by our protagonist Jason (Zac Efron).  It is that moment between moving forward in the relationship and moving on.  He also calls it “The So” as in “So, where is this headed?”  

He is a Romeo and Lothario of the Alfie breed.  Breaking hearts but not meaning to truly hurt anyone.  He just gets want he wants and gets out.  Jason’s goal is to get a stable of different women changing them out the way men change socks.   His bed is full of conquests.

Jason has two best buddies.  Daniel (Miles Teller) is in the junior league of seducing women, using his girl-buddy Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) as his wingman.  She is a charming actress who has her own series of conquests.  Daniel and Jason design book covers for modern romantic novels.  They pitch the idea over and over that they know women.

The third Musketeer is Mikey (Michael B. Jordan).  He is a doctor married to Vera (Jessica Lucas).  As the work opens, she announces that she is living him.  Mikey is devastated by the news.  He’s been married to her for years and does not know how to function without her.

Since the three guys are all single at the same moment, they make a pact to stay that way.  All three find that that is much easier said than done.  Mikey still has feelings for his wife and begins to see her on the side.  Daniel hooks up with Chelsea and finds that he wants to spend all of his time with her. 

Then there is Jason.  He cute-meets Ellie (Imogen Poots) at a bar and they begin a rocky relationship.  As much as he wants to keep it casual, Jason finds himself falling for this young woman who is his equal in just about every way.  Anyone who has seen a romantic comedy knows that none of these secret events will be kept secret for that long.

Zac Efron has been trying to break out of his High School Musical Disney persona.  This is a major step away from that role.  He is naked time and time again; showing is bare rear end to the camera on more than one occasion.  It seems to be a brash statement that he is no longer part of Walt’s family.  The problem is that he comes off a bit stiff in the romantic scenes.  He drops F-Bombs almost as if he has Tourette Syndrome.   

By far the biggest miscast is Michael B. Jordan as Mikey.  To be blunt, he does not look comfortable in front of the camera.  Time and time again, there is this shocked look in his eye as if he is about to bolt for the door and away from the movie. 

Easily the most comfortable person on camera is Miles Teller.  He has the look of the guy next door, the best buddy who will never let you down or hurt you.  There is this certain rogue charm in his delivery that makes him a delight on film.  He works well with Mackenzie Davis and they make a believable couple.

The casting of this film is what makes it.  No one, except for Zac, is a part of the ‘stunning beautiful crowd’ and believable as couples.  The girls are pretty but not ‘shockingly beautiful Hollywood’ pretty.  There is a charm to the average of all the characters that puts a common feel to the film.  One believes that these are real people trying to make a path in a real world.  It is not a Hollywood convention.

Director Tom Gormican captures this film much in the same way Woody Allen captures New York, with a sure and loving hand.  He makes one yearn for walking down the streets, taking in the bustling sights while still finding those little moments of calm.  He makes the city a magical place.

It should be noted that this is a very adult film, with many adult situations and adult language.  For the pre-teen High School Musical crowd, this is a very different film that deserves its R rating.  That Awkward Moment will become an awkward moment for any parent taking the girls to see a cute romantic comedy with their favorite Disney star.  Be forewarned.

There is this very old adage of “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”  It is also a theme used in the movie.  By the previews, I expected this to be yet another romantic comedy, full of twenty-something pathos.  It was more of a charming diversion.  That Awkward Moment is not a great movie but it is a better movie than I expected. 

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