This movie review was originally published at USA TODAY COLLEGE on Feb. 7, 2014. Photo found here.
That Awkward Moment feels more like “That Awkward Movie.” Does it want to be a raunchy bro comedy, where Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) endlessly make penis jokes about their friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan)? Does it want to be a quick-witted observational comedy about the state of 20-something relationships? Or does it want to be the next Swingers, where two friends try to cheer up another friend after he gets a divorce? The answer is all three at once, and the movie never gets its tone right.
When Mikey finds out that his wife is cheating on him with her lawyer, Jason and Daniel try to cheer him up by taking him out to clubs every weekend, vowing that as long as Mikey is single, they will stay single, hooking up with as many women as possible and never committing to a relationship. This is the crux that the three major story arcs fall under, a weak plot device serving as an excuse for all of the decisions that these guys make.
Their vow of singlehood doesn’t last for long. Jason finds himself reluctantly getting involved with a girl he meets at a bar. Daniel starts to seriously date his female best friend. Mikey starts to see his wife again without telling Jason and Daniel. All three of those relationships come to a head when they all have “that awkward moment” when each of them start to wonder where the relationship is going.
It’s all predictable, and the plot is nothing new, but the chemistry between the three male leads is solid, and it’s fun to watch them banter back and forth. One bit where Jason confuses the meaning of “dress up party” and wears a dildo around his waist to a cocktail party had my entire theater laughing. But the problem is there’s too much tonal shift between dick jokes and ass nudity to heartfelt relationship advice that the movie never feels genuine, it just feels … awkward.
There is, however, some sly observational commentary on how the Millennial generation is becoming increasingly tethered to social media as a way to define dating relationships. One entire scene is devoted to Facebook stalking, and Mikey finally realizes that his wife wants to finalize their divorce when she takes her relationship status off of her Facebook profile. “Nobody changes their status” is a key part of the singlehood bet that all three of the friends make. This aspect never goes deeper that surface-level observation, however. It’s just there.
That Awkward Moment isn’t raunchy or shocking enough to be The Hangover, not witty enough to be Swingers, and not sentimental enough to be an ensemble cast driven film like Love Actually. But it tries to be all three at once, and that just makes it awkward.
Verdict: Beer. You could buy one for yourself, or go out to a bar like these guys and buy a drink for someone you meet. Either way, it’s better than spending your money on a ticket for this movie.
Jake Harris is a senior journalism major at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Follow him on Twitter.