Despite a naked Zac Efron, the laddish rom com, That Awkward Moment, isn’t worth the celluloid it was filmed on, says Simon Mernagh.
As a general rule, any star-studded Hollywood release in January or February usually travels one of two routes – either it’s an afterthought from a film studio’s warehouse, post-awards nomination season, or it’s a Liam Neeson-led action thriller. If Mr Neeson’s absence or the nauseatingly coy title wasn’t warning enough, the director of That Awkward Moment is none other than Tom Gormican, one of the chief culprits behind last year’s abysmal Movie 43.
Let me say from the outset, the film met my dismally low expectations with gusto.
Three best friends, played by Zac Efron, Michael B Jordan and Miles Teller, all struggle through varying stages of romantic life. Jordan ponders reuniting with his unfaithful wife and Teller considers his first foray into monogamy, while Efron must learn to meet his girlfriend (Imogen Poots) halfway. Awkward moments do indeed ensue, although the movie’s complete lack of bite, wit or charm deaden their blow somewhat.
Standard wild-manchild antics bounce up against moments of mushy heartstring-tugging in the hopes of catering to both sides of the heteronormative coin. Showcasing the lads’ caveman attitudes towards women is one thing, but when that’s all their paper-thin personalities have to offer, one wonders whether any of them deserves the prerequisite happy ending. Only those consumed by the frat-boy mentality of boobs, beer pong and breathtaking banality could be fooled by all this superficial humdrum.
In the world of That Awkward Moment any complicated woman, semi-intelligent man or (gasp) gay person would be considered mysterious and otherworldly. If men and women hail from different planets, as this movie insinuates, queers must be beamed here from another galaxy entirely.
A self-described “R-rated comedy”, the ‘R’ in That Awkward Moment could happily stand for ‘reductive’, ‘routine’ and/or ‘repetitive’. Extremely repetitive. Lowbrow humour is often enlivened by a bubbling script, but That Awkward Moment barely simmers – the jokes simply aren’t edgy or funny enough to inspire anything above a tepid chuckle here and there.
It’s a shame, because these intellectually out-for-lunch characters fit the male cast like a selection of gloves, and despite Herculean efforts from Poots to appear as something broaching a multi-faceted female figure, nobody involved can save what is ultimately cripplingly moronic writing.
The core moral about romantic honesty that’s embedded in That Awkward Moment is a universal one, but it’s buried under so many layers of bonehead frat-boy dirt that the effort required in digging it up defeats its purpose. It propagates and advocates out-dated attitudes that need to change; not because we live in politically correct times, but because they aggressively insult both the film’s intended audience and everyone else alike.
I’m giving this film one and a half stars, purely for the sort-of naked Zac Efron scene. You can forget the rest.
That Awkward Moment opens today, January 29, nationwide.
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