'That Awkward Moment' Is The Recycled Used Condom of Rom Coms

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'That Awkward Moment' Is The Recycled Used Condom of Rom Coms

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | January 31, 2014 | Comments ()


That Awkward Moment is a wretched, terrible film starring very attractive, and in some cases seriously talented, actors, all slumming it while they await what will surely be brighter futures. For three of the four leads, anyway, it’s nice to get rock bottom out of the way before they begin their ascent. And then there’s Zac Efron, who is clinging to rock bottom as he falls through the sediment and shale on his way into rock bottom’s gullet, where he’ll eventually dissolve in the gastric juices of irrelevance.

But Efron is not the most serious issue with That Awkward Moment. The most serious problem is writer/director Tom Gormican, whose only other credit was as a producer on Movie 43 and the composer of a 2011 tweet expressing excitement at the prospect of attending Burning Man. That tweet had more life, more wit, and more originality than all of That Awkward Moment, and wasted far less talent.

Efron, Michael B. Jordan, and Miles Teller star in That Awkward Moment as a pair of contemporary bros — hair gel, expensive jeans, and erections on the outside, and soft-gooey emotional centers on the inside. After Michael B. Jordan’s character, Mikey — who is old enough to have finished medical school and have his first divorce — finds out that said wife was sleeping with her lawyer, the three make a bet with absolutely no stakes: They agree to remain single together. The bet is immediately complicated by the fact that Mikey is trying to reconcile with his wife, Daniel (Miles Teller) is falling in love with his female wingman, and Jason (Efron) is falling hard for Ellie, an author he initially mistakes for a hooker (Imogen Poots).

Despite the absence of stakes involved in the bet, while pursuing their relationships, each of the three keeps that fact hidden from one another, which results in a few hackneyed contrivances that threaten their relationships, culminating in Jason’s boneheaded decision to skip the funeral of his girlfriend’s father, so as not to appear that he’s in a relationship.

The plot meanders from one lousy artifice to another, very little of consequence happens, and then each of the bros have their rom-com ending, complete with obvious callbacks established within 10 minutes of the film’s opening. Oh, and if you don’t hate the idea of this movie enough, I should also mention that Efron and Miles’ characters design chick-lit book jackets for a living, and the best joke in the film is when Jordan’s character drunkenly masturbates with self-tanner.

It’s difficult to stress just how terrible That Awkward Moment is — flaccid, uninteresting, and painfully unfunny — and yet despite that, it’s hard to deny that the charm of Jordan and, especially, Teller still manages to seep through. Teller is given nothing to work with, and yet somehow he manages to be the likable funny guy, wooing with the looks of a pastier young John Cusack and the patter of a Swingers-era Vince Vaughn. Jordan does the best he can as the mopey emotional center, whose major statement in the film is that scotch and ice cream make terrific companions after you’ve been dumped. Efron, meanwhile, delivers his lines with complete woodenness, as though trying to will the words alive with dead-eye stares.

As formulaic rom-com endings go, That Akward Moment also features one of the worst romantic gesture scenes I’ve ever seen, an unintentionally awkward moment that even the most impassioned Efron fans would furl their eyebrows at, a kind of shrug of indifference before the credits roll. It’s a staggeringly incompetent film with all the wit of lobotomized navel fuzz, the complexity of brain-damaged amoeba, and the originality of an overused ’90s catchphrase.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Sean

    I hated this movie, thanks for destroying this Dustin! With the expected style and Pajiban panache.

  • Davis

    The a Buzzfeed version of a guy film I heard someone refer to this as.

    Is Zac Efron really at rock bottom?

  • Rom-coms in general are the definition of formulaic. You have the man and woman who hate each other but fall in love, the friends who discover they love each other, the mismatched odd couple that would never work in real life, or the ensemble piece that involves marital problems, cheating, newlyweds, and singles trying to get some.

    There are a few gems in the bunch. Two I can name off the top of my head are Bull Durham (because who doesn't like Sex and Baseball) and Love Actually (too many cute people).

  • e jerry powell

    So it's a chick flick for Bros. Surely that's some kind of cultural inversion worthy of torches and pitchforks somewhere.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    wouldn't it be funnier if one of the white guys used self-tanner?

  • Tinkerville

    "It’s a staggeringly incompetent film with all the wit of lobotomized navel fuzz, the complexity of brain-damaged amoeba, and the originality of an overused 90’s catchphrase."

    This is why I come to Pajiba.

  • Salad_Is_Murder

    Heh, Poots.

  • Right? If ever there were a moment for a stage name.

  • Ooh, ooh, I've got the pull quote, you're going to make the DVD cover with this one:

    "That Awkward Moment is a ... film starring very attractive, and ... seriously
    talented actors ... with ... erections ... inside ... Efron, ... a hooker, ...
    which results in ... the funeral of his girlfriend’s father. Efron ...
    drunkenly masturbates ... flaccid ... with dead-eye stares." -Dustin Rowles

  • "Then there’s Zac Efron, who is clinging to rock bottom as he falls through the sediment and shale on his way into rock bottom’s gullet, where he’ll eventually dissolve in the gastric juices of irrelevance."

    Which means gas companies could eventually...


    Frack Efron


  • cicatricella

    +10 internets, would lol again.

  • ERM 275

    I'm not going to see this, but I really want to know what happens in the worst romantic gesture scene.

  • pajiba

    The problem is, there's NOTHING to spoil. The romantic gesture was -- *Matthew McConaughey fizzlewhat gesture in Wolf of Wall Street* -- nothing. It was barely a gesture.

    Spoilers -- He picked her up at a bar in the opening scenes, and the romantic gesture was to use the exact same pick up line, only it was gender reversed and delivered with glassy eyes. IT WASN'T EVEN A GOOD PICK UP CONVERSATION.

  • oilybohunk7

    I would like to know as well.

  • Skyler Durden

    That's exactly what I came to say. Does anyone want to spoil?

  • Fabius_Maximus

    If the headline is not a perfect movie poster quote, I don't know what is.

  • I want to heartily disagree with you on Efron as an actor, Dustin. The movie can suck all it wants, but if Efron fades, I'll be unhappy because it means he couldn't break out of a rut.

    I'm hoping he'll take this time, go look for a good indie drama and build himself into an actor separate from HSM. I feel like this and Neighbors are his first attempt to break a mold. Here's hoping.

    But, in all seriousness, if you haven't seen 17 Again, then you don't know how good the kid can be. So I don't think it's him so much as what he's workin' with.

  • 17 Again was fucking dreadful. When it came out I was working at Blockbuster, and although we got free rentals, I still wanted my money back after my girlfriend made me sit through that god-awful, unoriginal wasteland of monotony.

  • E, I'm sorry you feel that way. I kinda love the movie. Might be a chick thing.

  • dilwazr

    I agree! I thought he was terrific in 17 Again. He's ridiculously talented: he can sing, he can dance, he's (usually) got great comic timing, he can play basketball??

  • Sarah Weissman

    I thought he was - not amazing - but charming in Hairspray. Nice energy.

  • pajiba

    (I've seen him in 'Me and Orson Welles,' and yes, he was quite excellent. But I've also seen him in this and that Charlie Country and some Nicholas Sparks movie, and my god, he can be terrible, too.

  • Well, hopefully, he'll figure it out. I honestly like him. He needs a good ensemble piece and some grit. But I'm glad he's honestly doing whatever he can to break out of the Disney mold.

  • So...did you like it?

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