[Screen It]


(2014) (Zac Efron, Miles Teller) (R)

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Romantic Comedy: Two confirmed bachelors agree to remain romantically unattached to anyone to prove their solidarity with their married friend whose wife is leaving him.
Unlike their married doctor friend, Mikey (MICHAEL B. JORDAN), book cover designers Jason (ZAC EFRON) and Daniel (MILES TELLER) are confirmed bachelors who enjoy casual hook-ups with various young women they put on their self-proclaimed "rosters." When Mikey discovers that his lawyer wife, Vera (JESSICA LUCAS), is cheating on him and wants a divorce, Jason and Daniel welcome him back to their world where all agree not to get romantically involved with anyone in a sign of solidarity for Mikey.

But then Jason has a one-night stand with Ellie (IMOGEN POOTS) and leaves upon believing she's a hooker, only to discover that she's actually an aspiring author and new client with his boss' firm. After that misunderstanding, they start seeing each other. At the same time, Daniel ends up sleeping with the guys' gal-pal Chelsea (MACKENZIE DAVIS) and starts to develop feelings for her, all while Mikey tries to reconcile with Vera. With none of them knowing such romantic developments about each other, the three friends try to maintain their non-committal stances that end up putting their budding romances in jeopardy.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
There's a moment in the "bromance" comedy "That Awkward Moment" when the character played by Zac Efron explains the pivotal and titular period in time when the fate of a budding romantic relationship hangs in the balance. It's when one in the party starts by uttering a drawn-out "So..." that's described by Efron's Jason as being the time to decide to move forward (and presumably become more serious) in the dating or simply move on to new grazing pastures, so to speak.

It's not long after that scene when many a viewer might have a similar reaction, but not toward the person with whom they're watching this offering. Instead, it would be the moment when they might utter their own "Soooooo...." in determining whether to keep on watching and hope that things will get better or at least more interesting, or whether it's time to abandon this flick that seems like it might not ever develop into something more mature, insightful, interesting or at least funny about the world of modern dating.

Alas, being a movie reviewer is something akin to being in a short term arranged marriage, meaning I have to sit through the entire thing regardless of my feelings toward it. Thankfully, in this line of cinematic "romance," it's relatively painless to null one's relationship with such a pic and that's what I imagine most critics and many a viewer will likely do after sitting through all 94-some minutes of this film.

Granted, I probably shouldn't have expected much, what with having seen the TV commercials and longer trailers that displayed the pic's "best" moments or the fact that first-time writer/director Tom Gormican's lone other credit is being a co-producer of the cinematic abomination known as "Movie 43." To be fair, this flick isn't anywhere as painful or abusive as that travesty, but there's not much of an admirable track record in place yet for this filmmaker.

Of course, you might have a different reaction if you think Efron's character misunderstanding a party invitation to mean he should arrive wearing a very long and flaccid dildo from the front of his pants as funny. Or if you have any sort of similar amused reaction seeing the same dude lying horizontally across a toilet (as does the character played by Miles Teller, elsewhere) so that he can urinate in a toilet while having a "boner" that won't go away (due to taking ED medication). And then there's always the repeated jokes made about the now orange colored genitals belonging to Michael B. Jordan after his character uses self-tanner as his drunken lube of choice for some self-gratification.

Yes, that's much of the level and "sophistication" of such humor offered up here. Don't get me wrong, if such below the belt humor is done smartly and/or with heart (as occurred in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin") it can work and deliver the laughs. Sadly, neither element is present in enough of a dose to pull off this sort of material. The same holds true for the pic's attempts at any sort of insight into relationships and the fact that many a guy is reluctant to settle down with just one woman due to immaturity, the "need" to sow one's wild oats as much as possible, societal pressures and expectations, or what have you.

The plot revolves around three friends (Efron, Teller and Jordan) who vow -- in the stereotypical "bros before hos" fashion -- not to get romantically committed to anyone after Jordan's doctor character learns that his wife has cheated on him and wants a divorce. Surprise, surprise, all three do but then keep that secret from each other.

Hilarity and character maturation are supposed to ensue and conflict, but don't as Jordan gets back under the sheets with his yet-to-be-ex (Jessica Lucas), Efron falls for an aspiring author (Imogen Poots) who he mistakenly initially believes to be a hooker, and Teller ends up bedding and romancing the guys' gal-pal (Mackenzie Davis) who's fully aware of their game and sometimes acts as their female wingman in bars.

This isn't "When Harry Met Sally Folks" folks, and it's surprising how few films since that 1989 pic have successfully managed to elicit laughs and generate insightful commentary on men, women, friendships, relationships, sex and how all of that fits together in a big ol' complicated and sometimes frustrating yet usually exhilarating if not satisfying mix. Sooooo, I think it's time we went our separate ways, "That Awkward Moment," as you didn't rock my world in any way, shape or form, and because you rate as just a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed January 29, 2014 / Posted January 31, 2014

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