That Awkward Moment
Too much bathroom humor in this ill-conceived bromantic comedy
By Max Weiss. Posted on January 31, 2014, 4:22 pm
[WARNING: THE FILM IS RATED R AND MY REVIEW CONTAINS ADULT CONTENT.]
There’s a massive disconnect between the film That Awkward Moment thinks it is and the film it actually is.
It seems to think it’s a hip, freewheeling, edgy bromantic comedy—equal parts Swingers and a Y-chromosome take on HBO’s Girls. When, for the most part, it’s clichéd, regressive, and, at times, down right offensive.
Early in the film, Zac Efron’s Jason explains that when a girl says the word “so” (as in: “so where is this going?" or “so what are we to each other?”) it’s time to cut and run. (Before they decided to appropriate that slightly-dated Internet-speak of the title, some earlier version of this film was almost undoubtedly called “So…”).
He and his best friends Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) make a pact to fill up their “rosters” with women you can have regular sex with without any expectation of commitment. Then, you guessed it, Jason meets a girl he really likes, Ellie (the gloriously named Imogene Poots), but resists his feelings, because it’s against his own bro code.
Meanwhile, Daniel has a female best friend who acts as a kind of wingman for him at the bar, ushering girls his way, complimenting their shoes, making introductions until—who could have possibly seen this coming?—Daniel falls for her, too. (That whole scenario is beyond stupid: Teller is a somewhat handsome kid who has risen to fame thanks to his abundance of loopy charm. His female best friend, played by Mackenzie Davis, is a model-esque beauty—in real life she’d be out of his league, not his Plain Jane pal helping him hook up with other girls.).
Jordan’s Mikey is the most human of the bunch. He plays a doctor, still pining away for his ex-wife. (He has to keep the fact that he has feelings away from his buddies—they wouldn’t understand.)
That Awkward Moment is the kind of film where most of the women are interchangeable sex objects—except for the two “cool girls” our heroes fall in love with.
And then there’s this: Are men actually as, um, phallus-centric as this film would have us believe? Because the film is positively obsessed with penises. There’s a long extended bit when Mikey accidentally masturbates with tanning lotion—triggering a “made for the gag reel” series of clearly improvised and mostly unfunny quips from his pals (“you look like a traffic cone” “you look like a sad giraffe” etc.). Later, Jason goes to a “dress up” party, which he misinterprets as a costume party, decked out in a hanging dildo. In another scene, Daniel goes to hug Mikey while wearing no pants and Mikey basically tells him to back that thing up.
When the gang aren’t talking about their “junk” and demeaning—or idealizing—women, they’re making fart jokes. Those are some of the more sophisticated moments.
The film has its charms—mostly because the leads are so effortlessly appealing. But Efron, in particular, needs to start making smarter choices. That Awkward Moment feels a bit like spending 90 minutes with three frat boys who are constantly high fiving and laughing at each other’s jokes. They’re not nearly as hilarious as they think they are.
Max Weiss is the managing editor of Baltimore and a film and pop culture critic.