Synopsis: Three best friends find themselves where we’ve all been – at that confusing moment in every dating relationship when you have to decide “So…where is this going?”
Stars: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas
Director: Tom Gormican
Running Length: 94 minutes
Trailer Review: Here
TMMM Score: (4.5/10)
Review: I can imagine writer/director Tom Gormican sitting at home late one night and happening upon an early episode of Sex and the City. Perhaps he caught one of those episodes with its four stars getting into some sexual pretzel involving relationships and that scary four letter word spelled L-O-V-E. Over brunch at a swanky Manhattan eatery they would talk about all things bedroom related while never stopping to ask, “How’s your mom doing?” before strolling away to their tony loft apartments.
At this point Gormican could have thought to himself, “Hey, guys do that TOO!” and just took several episodes of the popular HBO show and reworked them, replacing Sarah Jessica Parker with Zac Efron, Kim Cattrall with Miles Teller, and Kristin Davis with Michael B. Jordan (sorry Cynthia Nixon, no dude parallel for you!) to provide the male’s eye view of romance in modern day New York.
That’s all well and good and more power to the filmmakers for following a proven model but yikes if the film isn’t terribly shallow and not nearly as insightful or entertaining as it thinks it is. Even the meteoric charm of the three leads can’t keep the thin film afloat, though Gormican and company do try to distract you with plenty of shots of Efron nearly nude and nobly clearing the way for two females to shine.
Efron (Neighbors, The Lucky One), Teller (The Spectacular Now), and Jordan (Fruitvale Station) are twentysomethings moving through New York City in the ways that only a film would allow…with fantastically gigantic apartments and jobs that don’t require them to be there much of the time. Efron and Teller work for a publisher and Jordan is a doctor with a marriage on the rocks. Single and mingle-ing Efron and Teller make a pact with Jordan not to get into a relationship so all three can play the field. Trouble is Efron and Teller find love quickly while Jordan, a hopeless romantic, keeps going back to a wife (Jessica Lucas, The Evil Dead) that can’t decide if it’s really over.
Efron’s job affords him the kind of stunning NYC apartment that would make the cast of Friends salivate (especially when you consider that Jordan and his lawyer wife live in a place one quarter the size) and his wardrobe of layers upon layers of sweaters, button-ups, and scarves gets the point across that he’s always warm.
While this role feels more age appropriate than what Efron’s been stretching for lately, it still tries to cast him as a cad…a charming cad to be sure…but a cad even so. This seems to go against what Efron winds up playing so in the end we don’t understand in the least who this guy really is. Though the unconventional beauty of Imogen Poots catches his eye, for some reason he can’t resist (probably because the script says he has to) doing things that are incredibly disappointing. In fact, the film hinges on a decision Efron makes that’s so cruelly unforgivable and out of character that I don’t feel he ever fully recovers by the time the credits roll.
This turning point started to really bother me because up until then the movie could have been written off as well-intentioned but slightly off the mark. That’s also when everyone else in the picture lost their damn minds and started saying, doing, and feeling things that were out of left field. I choose not to believe that people are so shallow as to negate the emotions of those they claimed to care for so it became increasingly harder to accept that Gormican’s script could have led them down such a cooly mean-spirited road. It’s a disservice to the talent onscreen to sell them that short.
Poots and Mackenzie Davis are honestly the real reasons to see the film. Both come pretty close to walking away with their scenes…mostly because Gormican avoids making them stereotypes and the actresses bring a relatable believability to the screen. And for all the shenanigans they get into, our lead trio do have a chemistry that’s hard to create, though it’s never clear how they became friends in the first place.
Fine for a rental when the day gets rainy but not necessary to trek though winter weather to see in the theater, That Awkward Moment has its fair share of charm but lacks the depth vital to truly make its moment memorable.