That Awkward Moment

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Laura Clifford 
That Awkward Moment

Robin Clifford 

When unattached New Yorkers Jason (Zac Efron, "The Paperboy") and Daniel (Miles Teller, "The Spectacular Now") find out their buddy Mikey (Michael B. Jordon, "Fruitvale Station") is getting divorced, they make a pact to stay single together as a show of support.  It quickly gets broken when Mikey begins seeing his ex and both Jason and Daniel meet the girls of their dreams.  Each of the three will have to face that relationship point-of-no-return when a woman expects a commitment, "That Awkward Moment."

Laura:
One shouldn't attach a lot of faith in a romcom from the creator of "Movie 43," writer/director Tom Gormican and sure enough it turns out to be a cliche ridden, illogical and contrived exercise that introduces a likable character merely to kill him off later to drive a plot thread forward.  But what Gormican does have is a cast, including the stars of the past two Sundance Film Festival double Jury/Audience award winners, who seem to be having so much fun in each other's company they manage to float the film nonetheless.  They even sell today's romcom's de riguer raunch.

The whole idea of a trio of guys making a pact to avoid emotional connections by building up their 'rosters' is off putting and the permutations Gormican puts each through to avoid telling the others often make no sense.  Apparently Zac Efron is so irresistible, he can hurt a woman badly not just once, but twice, and still have her running back.  At least Gormican wraps with a paean to the big romantic gesture.

The film does have its moments, especially with running gags among the main trio (Daniel's predilection for using Jason's apartment for bowel movements, descriptions of Mikey's penis after he inadvertently masturbates with self tanning lotion).  Efron is turning into a competent and likable actor who almost makes us believe Jason's tortured response to his own bad behavior.  Imogen Poots (2011's "Fright Night") is a charmer as the somewhat naive Ellie whose offbeat sense of humor is a magnet to Jason.  Miles Teller is a real comer.  He imbues Daniel with a confident swagger that also acts as a wall and he and the lesser known Mackenzie Davis have the lived in chemistry of friendship that blossoms into something else.  Unfortunately they're more appealing playing at being each other's wingman than as a couple. Almost left out is Michael B. Jordan, whose earnest pursuit of his ex bores (he's supposed to represent the guy who did the responsible thing only to be left out in the cold, the implied message being that it's better to goof around and hook up for a few years).  As his ex, Jessica Lucas ("Cloverfield") is in an untenable position.

David Torn's score is indebted to The Cure's 'Pictures of You' and soundtrack selections are often not only tonally inappropriate but so high in the mix they distract from the scene.  Stick around for closing credit bloopers which are often better than anything in the film itself.  "That Awkward Moment" should have transpired when the producers read this script, but Efron, Teller, Jordan and Poots make it enjoyable nonetheless.

C+

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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