Zac Efron heads up this sort of romcom, sort of buddy sex comedy that claims to contain things for both sexes within the narrative. And maybe it does, just not for any believable human being on this planet.
Efron stars as serial womaniser Jason who, as his narration tells us, keeps a roster of women and always gets out of there before any one of his numerous conquests gets too serious and wants to *gasp* have a relationship, the awkward moment of the title. To use a more vulgar term, he regularly hits it and quits it, as does his best friend Daniel (Miles Teller). When their other friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) suddenly finds himself single again, they make a pact to remain single along with him only for the girl of their respective dreams to materialise into both their lives, complicating matters.
So far, so romcom, right? Only because the tone veers so wildly between crazy sex antics and lovey-dovey meet-cutes, it never feels at home in one “genre” and ends up messily smashing the two together. If they’d made a choice to either go full romcom or full bawdy sex comedy instead of supposedly trying to appeal to both sexes (because men only enjoy sex comedies and women only enjoy romcoms, apparently) you’d have a better film because the cast shows that they can do both. In fact, they are doing both. In the same film. As it stands, its two mediocre movies combined to make one bad one.
This tonal disconnect stretches to the characters as well; one moment Jason is wooing the supposed girl of his dreams being all charming, the next he’s bedding another girl just hours after said wooing. It makes for a deeply unlikeable protagonist, and the others aren’t much better either. Maybe it’s attempting to say something about the dating scene these days, but when characters who are supposed to be grown adults (this isn’t a teen comedy by the way) are denying their feelings for the sake of some odd notion of masculinity being how many notches are on your bedpost, the immaturity of their actions irks. They don’t feel like real people, rather stereotypes of college frat bros wrestling with their emotions in the way a ten year old might with his first “girlfriend,” only these characters are in their late twenties. The same goes for all the women in the film; all doe eyed and in love with the male characters for no discernable reason other than they have to be because the plot demands it, because it’s certainly not because they’re boyfriend material, or even nice people.
All of which is a shame because all the cast are on good form, Efron showing he can play the charming romantic lead and a sleazebag; the trouble is he’s both in the same film. The male cast all share a winning chemistry and genuinely feel like friends, which makes the inevitable falling out have a touch more impact and Imogen Poots is great as the object of Jason’s affections, Ellie, even if she doesn’t get that much to do.
Overall though, it’s not very good and feels much longer than the 90 minute runtime.
The only awkward moment is when you realise you’ve paid for a ticket to this.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
Thanks to our sponsors at the Odyssey Cinemas
Don’t forget to book your tickets for That Awkward Moment at the Odyssey Cinemas here.