That Awkward Moment

Directed By: Tom Gormican

Starring: Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, and Jessica Lucas

Many, including myself, have said in recent years that the romantic comedy is dead.  I have to retract my statement.  I'm more likely today to argue that it's an endangered species.  The sappy, formulaic rom com is indeed dead.  However, fresh takes on the genre do pop into movie theaters every now and then.  For 2013, that fresh take was Enough Said, Nicole Holofcener's indie comedy-drama about two middle-age divorcees finding love with one another.  For 2014, that fresh take might just be Tom Gormican's irreverent take on young love with rising stars Zac Efron (17 Again), Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now), and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) in That Awkward Moment.

Mikey (Jordan), a young doctor who got married at the age of 23, learns a hard lesson in the ways of love when he finds his wife Vera (Jessica Lucas) with another man in their New York apartment.  It's a double whammy because this Morris Chestnut look-a-like with whom Vera has been sleeping (Michael K. Williams or Omar from The Wire) is also an attorney and helps her serve Mikey divorce papers.  The young doctor is stunned.  He thought he had done everything right and had checked all the boxes in his life until this unbearable surprise landed in his lap.  Ready to turn to a pint of some Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor for solace, he instead turns to Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Teller), his two best friends from college. 

The reunited trio of friends makes a pact to stay single while Mikey deals with his divorce woes.  For Jason, this should be pretty easy in theory.  After all, this is a guy who has a roster of women with whom he sleeps on a regular basis in an effort to avoid a relationship.  Any time a woman reaches "The So" moment and implies that she's looking for something more, she's off his roster.  When he picks up a girl named Ellie (Imogen Poots) — whom he initially thinks is a hooker but who actually turns out to be a fun, beautiful young woman in a more respectable profession — things change for Jason.  In fact, Ellie is quickly stealing his heart, and he may have to retire his roster.  The same can be said for Daniel.  He's a guy who avoids relationships by having his friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) help him pick up girls.  It's worth noting that he reciprocates by helping her pick up guys as well.  However, this old habit dies hard when the two longtime friends fall for one another.  Good luck to the both of Jason and Daniel in keeping their pact with Mikey!

For a low key January romantic comedy, That Awkward Moment hits the spot.  It's like chicken and waffles.  You wouldn't think the combination of a heartwarming love story and a wild comedy would mix well.  However, director Tom Gormican and his cast somehow pull it off.  They deftly blend tender blossoming romances with raunchy R-rated humor.  This balancing act turns out to be a real strength for the movie as it allows the cast to do what they do best but also to stretch themselves and add dimensionality to their characters.  All in all, That Awkward Moment is a surprising gem that has a little something for everyone.

Each of our three stars and their on-screen companions bring something different to That Awkward Moment.  For his part as Mikey, Michael B. Jordan delivers one funny self-effacing divorcee facing the challenges of life after marriage, especially when he breaks out the tanner.  Jordan frequently shares the screen with Jessica Lucas in her role as his wife Vera.  Together, they have a cold chemistry fitting of a couple going through a hard breakup.  We also have Miles Teller as the uncensored party animal Daniel.  As usual, he tells it like it is and is the king of night life.  He shares the screen with Mackenzie Davis in her role as Chelsea.  Together, they bring some tenderness to the movie that accentuates the quieter moments of the film.  For his part as Jason, Zac Efron comes into his own as this charismatic playboy who loves living the single life and rocking out with his cock out.  He can no longer avoid "The So" moments when Imogen Poots' effervescent Ellie walks into his life.  Together on screen, they share a romance trademarked by an undeniably vibrant chemistry that really makes the film.

That Awkward Moment is a surprisingly delightful romantic comedy that breathes some youthful life into the genre.  Nimbly directed by Tom Gormican and passionately acted by all involved, the film is some nice counter programming to the more demanding awards season fare currently in theaters.  While it would be fitting to recommend you grab a 40 oz. malt liquor and some Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, you'll only need a couple of wine coolers with this one.  That Awkward Moment gets a 0.03% rating.  So...