When I saw the trailer for That Awkward Moment I was a little surprised. It is a movie that I didn’t expect its three stars to be in, at this moment in time. Well, at least two of the three. Miles Teller has been on a roll, in some fantastic films such as The Spectacular Now, while Michael B Jordan has been doing just the same including an incredible performance in Fruitvale Station. Zac Efron might be an exception, but even he has been making steps to change his image with films like The Paperboy and Parkland. So when the three of them teamed up to get a little less serious in this romantic comedy, I was curious as to why?
Jason, Mikey and Daniel (Efron, Jordan and Teller, respectively) are three friends who live together in New York City. Mikey is facing a divorce, while Jason and Daniel live a life committed to, well, not committing. It’s all going very well, but as they try and reacclimatize Mikey to their world, things begin to change and unexpected challenges like love, and responsibility start to create some awkward situations for the trio.
Let’s preface this by explaining my perspective when I watched the film. I was on a long plane journey, and had just watched two thought provoking films. I need of something a little more lighthearted, I selected That Awkward Moment. Has I not taken that plane journey, I may never have ever thought to watch this film. I guess what I’m trying to say is that my expectations were relatively low.
The film has a strong cast. Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan are two incredible up and coming actors, and I genuinely think that Zac Efron has some potential. They’re all charming, and manage to have their own strong presence and character in spite of each other. None of the three were really outshined at all throughout, and the film was well acted. Efron’s performance bordered on a little cheesy and cringe worthy at times, but this was more down to the writing than anything he did wrong. All in all, no matter what I thought about other aspects of the film, the acting from these three, as well as most of the supporting characters, was strong and lifted the film a level higher than it might have been.
The question though, is what level could it reach? As a comedy, I personally thought the film was really, really funny. Some of the gags were a little silly, and unintelligent, but quite frankly I think I don’t enjoy when this is a criticism. If something is funny, it’s funny. I laughed. There was also some more intelligent and thoughtful comedy. It was a nice balance, and what was interesting was that all three actors provided a little of both, which was surprising and refreshing. I’m not ashamed to say that some of the gags had me laughing out loud on the plane. Maybe I’m immature. Maybe I was in that kind of mood. Regardless, it worked.
That being said, the film is also a romance and is attempted to make a point, as most do. This is where things get a little lost. While I laughed profusely at times, in a film like this I also want to feel touched, or like some insightful thoughts have been put into it. After about 30 minutes I began to realize that I wasn’t going to get this. For starters, the whole ‘Afraid of commitment, until they meet someone special and change their ways’ thing is one of the least original concepts in the genre. So if you’re going to do it, you need a twist, or to do it exceptionally well. The fact is, they didn’t here. It is formulaic and it is chock full of clichés.
This continues as we see the same things we’ve seen before, over and over. Granted, the strong cast executes the script as well as it can, and gets a lot of laughs along the way, but there’s only so much they could do with this stuff. There were a lot of moments where I expected them to go in a new direction, and even saw some potential ways they could go, but then they just didn’t. It was an odd feeling, because they did exactly what I didn’t expect, which was actual exactly what I would expect. Or something like that.
That’s not to say that there was no meaning there. There were moments. For example Miles Teller and Addison Tilman brought to life their budding relationship really well, and in a pretty subtle way that was fun to watch. The small moments with them together on screen felt real. Contrast this with the relationship between Efron’s Jason and his new lady friend, which was a cliché filled, formulaic and fake disaster at times. So it had some great moments, but grander meaning just wasn’t there.
All in all, I have mixed feelings about the film. The cast did a great job with the material, and there were some charming moments in there. They executed the gags brilliantly, and there was almost something even more amusing about watching the young, legitimate actors in these situations. One or two moments had me rolling. But the problem was that the plot was cliché filled, and while it seemed like I was enjoying the moments as they came, at certain key points, most importantly the end, I felt empty and knew that That Awkward Moment would prove to be a funny, but forgettable film.