It’s not enough that Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Lopez, and Matthew McConaughey withered away the goodwill of traditional romantic comedies for everyone, but I fear we have now reached a point where raunchy romantic comedies are becoming too commercial. Films such as American Pie, Superbad, Van Wilder, and Eurotrip paved the way for today’s take on the subgenre, sprinkling in hilarious over the top sexual innuendos and gags around fun, resonating stories. But because we celebrated the taboo too blindly we now have movies like That Awkward Moment, which drowns itself with raunch for the sake of raunch and never truly finds its own skin.
Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) who work together as overpaid book cover illustrators, along with their doctor pal Mikey (Michael. B Jordan) have decided to make a pact between best buddies that they would remain single after Mikey’s wife says she wants a divorce. This pact randomly turns into a bet with no wages, time limit, or consequences for reasons unexplained other than to just simply prove their brochismo. As they attempt to lead the perfect bachelor life Jason finds himself falling for a recent slam piece up, Ellie (Imogen Poots), who happens to also be a client; all the while Daniel begins dating the group’s favorite wing woman Chelsea (Makenzie Davis); and Mikey seeks to rekindle his marriage with Vera (Jessica Lucas). Of course, the three amigos avoid telling each other their situation and feels – that’s just not what bros do obviously – keeping up the facade of their broficent lifestyles sponsored by Marc Jacobs or something.
For first time writer/director Tom Gormican, That Awkward Moment shows glimmers of potential, but sadly doesn’t offer anything new on the table. Amongst its charismatic leading men who share a good rapport with one another, a better movie was lost amongst a pile of clichés. Gormican plays it too safe and doesn’t attempt to evolve the three a-typical dating tropes he crammed into one movie. There’s been enough raunchy sex comedies that play for laughs that do not serve the story well and we are once again provided that here. The film is a short 94 minutes, which felt like an eternity, but if Gormican could have found a way to construct a more unconventional narrative and complement it with his style of comedy than it would have been a more memorable experience.
I’m reminded of a little indie comedy a few years back, For a Good Time Call… (a movie that surprised me in 2012). It is truly an out of the box tale about two gals (Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller) living in the big city who start a sex phone hotline and become BFFs. That Awkward Moment plays with the idea that this film is more about relationships on a human level rather than about dating, but as previously mentioned Gormican chooses to go the road frequently traveled. And to make matters worse the couples have very little chemistry with each other that make it hard to care about whether they stick together or not. You pay more attention to their lifestyles and what clothes they are wearing or not wearing than anything else.
At its core, the heartfelt messages and dramatic themes That Awkward Moment is aiming for are overshadowed by the excessive penis jokes and cheesy, awkward, and unbelievable dialogue. Most of the situations these guys get into feel so forced and calculated while trying to make you as uncomfortable as possible. The written characters are pretty dumb and narrow-minded, which makes it all the more difficult to root for the predictably unearned, happy ending.
So… as it turns out, That Awkward Moment is as mature as a fraternity bro wearing cargo shorts taking a lucky girl out to Red Lobster for their anniversary with post dinner, missionary position sex. Nothing creative, but full of the vulgarity and phoned in performances you would come to expect. There is never a moment that stands out as original and the whole is completely forgettable. There are a handful of laughs to be had here, but the shock value wears out faster than Jim Levenstein’s tube socks, leaving you with an old, crusty idea of falsified hopes of a fun time.
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That Awkward Moment releases on Friday January 31. It was directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, with a run time of 94 minutes. This film has been rated R for sexual content and language throughout. (Watch the trailer here)
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