Reviews for the Easily Distracted:
That Awkward Moment

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Title: That Awkward Moment

Did Any Particular Awkward Moment Stand Out? When I realized I had just watched a naked Zac Efron lying on a toilet and failed to hurl napalm at the screen.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant to the Film: One and a half fedoras out of five.


Brief Plot Synopsis: Hipster douche canoe undeservedly finds love.

Tagline: "When you realize 'getting some' means 'wanting more.'"

Better Tagline: "Boy meets girl, boy loses girl (because he thinks girl is a hooker), boy preys on girl's lack of character development to get her again."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: In an effort to demonstrate solidarity with their recently divorced buddy Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) vow to stay single for the foreseeable future. Naturally, complications arise. For Daniel, it means developing non-platonic feelings for his wing "person" Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis); Jason, on the other hand, finds himself falling for recent NYC transplant Ellie (Imogen Poots) and...oh, you can see where this is going.


"Critical" Analysis: Mark your calendars and/or reset your doomsday clocks, because That Awkward Moment represents the watershed moment in movie history when romantic comedies became self-aware.

I'm not referring to cutesy fourth-wall breaches, since those have been around since Annie Hall, at least. No, I'm talking about a movie where the characters are fully cognizant of the fact they're in a rom-com and behave appropriately as a result. This isn't -- in my belief -- because the script forces them to, but because enough films of the genre have been produced that the genre itself has gained sentience. That, at least, is the only explanation I can come up with for why the characters act the way they do.

My blue sky(net)ing aside, That Awkward Moment is an expectedly uninspiring film. "Expectedly" because it's being released in the depths of the January-February abyss of cinematic crapitude, and also because its top-billed star is Zac Efron, he of Disney's High School Musical trilogy and New Year's Eve, which was only saved from serious consideration for "worst film of 2011" by the eldritch horror of Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill.

Bouncing around Gramercy and Brooklyn as he does, I assume writer/director Tom Gormican was going for a revamp of the New York love story, but it lacks the heart of movies like When Harry Met Sally or Manhattan. Much of the fault lies with Gormican himself, who manages a couple of decent laughs amid scenes that are huge, Sahara-like joke-free wastelands. That there's anything to chuckle about at all is nigh miraculous, coming from one of the producers of Movie 43.

That doesn't let Efron off the hook. In retrospect, it's hard to believe we're supposed to sympathize with the perpetually skinny jean/scarf-clad Jason, who reminded me of a more obnoxious Colin Farrell. He and Daniel live in a sort of Friends-style NYC fantasyland where their lucrative book cover-illustrating jobs provide ample income to live in spacious apartments and sip cocktails with attractive women that they can subsequently bone. Naturally, we're supposed to applaud his (belated) realization that Ellie is someone he should take seriously, and not just another spot on his "roster" of available ass.

Teller is amusing enough to watch, even if I was never exactly sold on his Spectacular Now performance. He's also part of the most insulting subplot, in which the attractive, talented and wealthy Chelsea opts to get together with the guy she's been procuring one-night stands for over the past few years. Jordan's character, on the other hand, is the most likable, and hence has the most boring character arc.

Until he gets depressed at one point, buys a 40 and gets a little rowdy. The less said about the implications of that scene, the better.

The movie's red-band trailer attempted to play up the vulgarity, promising a sort of "chick flick with dicks" (not to be confused with a "chicks with dicks flick," which is something else entirely). But as the characters sleepwalk toward their predictably inevitable resolutions, you realize the only thing setting That Awkward Moment apart from similar films is how depressingly unfunny it is.


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