Sunday, February 9, 2014

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (2014)

Written & Directed by Tom Gormican


Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA.  February 3, 2014  5:30 PM


"That Awkward Moment" is the romantic-comedy made with dudes in mind as it involves a trio of twenty-something buddies who vow not to get involved in a serious relationship so they can spend more time drinking and chasing tail together like they did back in their carefree days of college. First-time film maker, Tom Gormican has offered an intriguing raunchy bromance but still adheres to the typical conventions of the rom-com. These guys will face the expected difficulties in sticking to the grand plan as each will meet the girl of their dreams but oddly seem willing to sacrifice it all in order to hold up their end of their silly bargain. It's unclear who this likable but wobbly film may be geared towards as this plot doesn't sound much like something ladies will want to flock towards and men are not typically inclined to sit through a movie where something doesn't blow-up.What is refreshing about "That Awkward Moment" is how it unashamedly embraces modern ideas of the importance of male bonding although at the unfortunate expense of their relationships with women.

After Mikey's (Michael B. Jordan) marriage falls apart, his very single friends, Jason (Zac Efron), the dreamy metrosexual and Daniel (Miles Teller), our cuddly goofball, insist on taking him out for drinks and to meet girls. After Daniel slips them Viagra as a party favor, Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots, love that name!), a sweet and charming young lady. The two spend a great evening together and waste no time hooking up. However, Jason assumes she's a hooker (don't ask) and since he doesn't have any cash, sneaks out in the middle of the night.

The next day, Jason and Daniel go to their job as partners with an advertising firm and their client just happens to be Ellie. She's actually a writer and not at all pleased to see him. Jason explains the misunderstanding and wants a second chance but not surprisingly, Ellie is uninterested. Determined, Jason eventually manages to woo her back in to his arms but by this time, the boys have sworn off significant others. While wanting to keep his word to his buds, he also wants to move forward with his new lady which leads to a seemingly, impossible dilemma. His solution is to keep Ellie on the down-low which causes him to make not such great decisions as a boyfriend. This pattern continues as Daniel begins a clandestine romantic relationship with his female buddy (Mackenzie Davis) who served as his wing man to help him score chicks by stopping them to admire their shoes while Mikey secretly begins seeing his ex again.

Mr.Gormican displays considerable promise as a film maker and has a flair for dialogue which is how his script found it's way on the Hollywood Black List as one of the best unproduced screenplays back in 2010. He managed to eventually get his work produced but the film suffers from his inexperience behind the camera and needed to take another crack at the script to smooth out the rough edges in the plot. The director also occasionally appears before the camera which explains his great success at getting good performances from his actors. It's unclear whether Mr. Efron can actually act but delivers the proper amount of charm and sex appeal that's required here. There is little question about the abilities of his co-stars. Mr. Jordan, fresh off his impressive work in last year's "Fruitvale Station", manages to shine through despite his relatively minor role. The real stand out is Mr. Teller who takes me back to John Cusack in his early days, particularly "Say Anything". The actor has an easy, laid back comic style, which was also put to good use in his breakout role in "The Spectacular Now", that is quite appealing. Ms Poots, the only significant female character in the film, does the best she can in the underwritten role of the girlfriend needing a man but only a boy keeps showing up.

"That Awkward Moment" aims to present a humorous look at romance from the male perspective, albeit juvenile. Far from completely successful, the film still manages to be a satisfying diversion aided by a pleasing, spirited cast of young performers.