With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year for all sorts of movies with romantic elements. One of 2014’s attempts at creating something a little different is That Awkward Moment, an R-rated comedy about three best friends who have to decide what they want in their respective relationships. Unfortunately, That Awkward Moment is full of too much awkwardness, and not enough to redeem these relationships.
Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) are three best friends who enjoy hitting the town and finding different women to sleep with. Mikey’s pursuits are more vicarious living through the other two, since he’s already married. When his wife leaves him for another man because they haven’t had sex in six months, the three commit to one thing: no serious relationships. Almost instantly, all three are drawn into relationships of different sorts that find them lying to each other.
For a 94-minute movie, I could pretty easily list 94 problems with this film. Since that would take up more space and time than I’m willing to commit, though, let’s narrow it down to the biggest sweeping issues with the film. First and foremost, the guys in this film are all assholes, to varying degrees.
Jason is the worst. We’re talking about a guy who’s willing to give the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk in the middle of sex. Talk about awkward moments. Worse is his reaction to a one-night stand. After waking up and convincing himself she’s a hooker, he eventually calls her a hooker to her face – and still pursues her, with some success. It doesn’t help that, while Efron may be easy on the eyes, he’s definitely the lightweight when it comes to acting from this ensemble.
Daniel is a clown. He’s constantly making jokes, which can be charming. But when he’s constantly putting down his female friend who turns into a hookup, you have to wonder: in what reality would a smart, engaging woman put up with this behavior for more than five minutes. Teller’s definitely created a specific on-screen persona through previous films like The Spectacular Now and 21 & Over, and it carries over here; Teller usually has a bit more charisma, though.
Compared to the others, Mikey is relatively harmless. The big problem with Mikey is his approach to trying to fix his relationship with his wife: it’s by having more sex, without talking about the bigger underlying issues of the relationship, then getting upset when things don’t work out. Mikey’s the “nice guy,” and he carries the problems of that persona throughout the film. Even though he has less to work with than the other two, Jordan has a natural charm that, for the most part, covers up some of the more glaring flaws with Mikey.
Beyond the individual characters, there’s a bigger problem with the film: rampant misogyny. The women are barely fleshed out here, and the men treat them all like trash. Yet somehow, things largely work out for the men in spite of themselves. While there may be plenty of relationships that develop where one person treats the other poorly, seeing that reflected in what attempts to be a positive light is just disgusting.
If you’re still dying to see this film, chances are you’ve seen how much of Zac Efron you’ll see in the film (and yes, it’s a lot). That’s about all you’ll get out of this film – surface, nothing more.
That Awkward Moment is now playing in theaters. The film is rated R for sexual content and language throughout.