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Film Review: 'That Awkward Moment'

Katie Buenneke |
January 28, 2014 | 3:29 p.m. PST

Theater Editor

Teller, Jordan, and Efron try to convince themselves that they're not in love (Focus Features).
Teller, Jordan, and Efron try to convince themselves that they're not in love (Focus Features).
The mainstream romantic comedy as we know it has been proclaimed dead. Think about it, when was the last time you watched a rom-com like “The Proposal”? It was probably when you were watching “The Proposal.”

Sure, we have variations on the theme now (see: “The Spectacular Now,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Bridesmaids”), but movies like “You’ve Got Mail” simply aren’t being made any more.

And so we come to the latest iteration, the “bro-mantic comedy.” The 2014 Valentine’s season sees the release of two such films, the indie “Cavemen” and “That Awkward Moment,” out January 31. “That Awkward Moment” follows Jason (Zac Efron) and his friends Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) as they vow to stay single as long as possible, following Mikey’s split with his cheating wife.

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Of course, this being a romantic comedy, all three are foiled by enticing women who, for once, are total relationship material (one of the film’s running gags is the idea that Jason and Daniel have a “roster” of girls they hook up with regularly): Jason is enticed by Eliie (Imogen Poots), who’s totally perfect for him, while Daniel finds himself attracted to his wingwoman Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). And Mikey, ever the sympathetic gentleman, is still in love with his wife, Vera (Jessica Lucas) and is determined to make things work.

Despite the fairly egregious (and instantly dated) title, “That Awkward Moment” ends up being quite enjoyable. Sure, it’s formulaic (what romantic comedy isn’t?), and it’s easy to predict where the characters are going to end up, but the journey they take to get through the standard checkpoints along the path to “true love” is pleasantly unexpected. Writer/director Tom Gormican went for a hard R rating on the film, and it’s full of crude humor, but that makes it all the more realistic.

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The cast is quite talented too. Framed by buzzy up-and-comers Teller (“The Spectacular Now,” “Whiplash”) and Jordan (“Fruitvale Station,” “Chronicle”), a scruffy Efron leaves all memories of Troy Bolton from “High School Musical” behind. Unfortunately, the film, Efron and Poots are poorly served by an overly melodramatic penultimate moment that reads as hackneyed, but otherwise, “That Awkward Moment” seems charmingly fresh.

Watch the trailer below:

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