28/01/2014

That Awkward Moment

Since rom-coms generally star middle-aged actresses with teenage bodies and the once-alive teen genre has all but disappeared, there's a nice big gap in the middle for films about "young people" in relationships. And since rom-coms are generally targeted at women and are usually about women, That Awkward Moment attempts to give us something new by putting lads front and centre but the question is: does anyone want to sit around and hear Zac Efron complain about the ladies? Or more importantly, do you want to sit and watch him attempt to act?

It begins with Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) returning home from a hospital shift (young, black and a doctor!) to find his wife is leaving him for her lawyer. Understandably distraught, he leans on his buddies for support: Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Miles Tenner) who work and live together in one of those huge New York lofts occupied by the rich in real life and young people with no savings in movies and on television. They both believe in a casual kind of relationship and the former hates that awkward moment (like the title!) when the woman he's sleeping with asks where the relationship is going, so as an act of support they make a pact to stay single with Mikey so he doesn't feel so lame staying at home and eating ice cream like a stereotypical woman and they have a reason to avoid feelings, and here's where the trouble starts.
The pact is basically the whole plot and immediately it doesn't ring true. Is that what two already-single young men would do to make their separated friend feel better? And furthermore, why would they then push him to start dating when that goes directly against the pact they made 3 minutes earlier? It doesn't make sense and as a result everything else that happens in the film doesn't make sense, particularly when the lads air their issues at a Thanksgiving bash because until it kicks off it's not clear they had any issues with each other in the first place.

A weak plot in a rom-com is pretty much expected, and it doesn't stop That Awkward Moment from being mildly watchable. Most of the gags land, Miles Tenner is still getting mileage out of the one character he's been playing for about 4 years and Imogen Poots is an utter delight. Even Zac Efron looking as emotionally engaged as an Ikea wardrobe in the "I'm sorry I fucked up please give me another chance" scene didn't bother me too much. At least he's trying, bless him.

While trying to revive the rom-com and entertain both sexes at the same time is pretty ballsy, That Awkward Moment still feels a long way away from resuscitating a genre that peaked in 1989. But you do see Efron's arse, if that makes a difference.