‘That Awkward Moment’ presents unusual spin on romantic comedy

It’s a good thing I didn’t bring a date to “That Awkward Moment”, because we would have had our own awkward moment.

The film is a romantic comedy told from the male perspective. The three main characters in “That Awkward Moment” are guys, but this doesn’t fix the problem of the romantic comedy clichés.

To the credit of the movie, it has its moments of both romance and comedy that work, mainly when it focuses away from its running gags, most of which include a never-ending series of cracks about genitalia.

The film also deserves credit for its casting. The actors playing the three main characters – Zac Efron as arrogant, selfish Jason; Miles Teller as wisecracking barfly Daniel; and Michael B. Jordan as Mikey, the most mature one of the trio – are spot-on and play their roles well. They share good chemistry and I really buy them as good friends.

However, they each put themselves in situations where I want to smack them in the face. I know it’s part of the joke, because they refer to each other as “idiots” for their deeds, but that still doesn’t excuse them. That’s one of the major problems with this movie.

“That Awkward Moment” is about how these three young men make a pact to stay single after Mikey has just gotten out of a relationship with his wife, portrayed by Jessica Lucas, who was cheating on him. His friends Jason and Daniel try to cheer him up by going out to a bar. Jason meets a beautiful blonde named Ellie, portrayed by an astonishing Imogen Poots, and goes home with her. But when he sees signs that point to her as a hooker he bails, only to discover she isn’t a hooker at all.

Ellie and Jason go out on several dates, which Jason isn’t so sure about, since has been through the “so are we officially dating” moment recently with his previous girlfriend. Meanwhile, Daniel starts a fling with his female buddy, Chelsea, portrayed by Mackenzie Davis, and decides he wants to be more than “friends with benefits.” She agrees, as long as Jason and Mikey are cool with it. So of course, Daniel lies about telling them.

And get this — Mikey’s soon-to-be ex-wife wants to start something again with him, even though all logic points to a trap. Anyone can see this. Anyone except for Mikey, that is.

Mikey’s story gets the least development as Mikey is always sidelined by that of Jason and Daniel. That’s a shame too, because Mikey seems like the guy you’d like to pal around with and talk random stuff with. And it’s also unfortunate, because he makes as many dumb mistakes as the other guys.

Jason and Ellie have nice moments together, as Efron and Poots exhibit convincing chemistry. But the problem falls with Jason, who is too much of an arrogant jerk to care for. Even when the inevitable happens and he learns his lessons after making dumb mistakes, it’s hard to feel for him. It doesn’t seem convincing enough.

As for the comedy in the film, I’ll admit to having laughed a few times, despite myself. But I also have to question most of the setups. For example, Jason confuses Ellie’s “dress-up” party for something different and he wears an embarrassing outfit. Why would he wear it anyway if he knew Ellie’s friends and family were going to be there? There’s also a gag involving Viagra that questions what these guys consider a pickup at a bar, but to be fair, it does lead to a funny sight gag.

Also, I couldn’t help but feel that “That Awkward Moment” is a PG-13 story in an R-rated movie, meaning the filmmakers must have thought the relationships were too sweet for a male romantic comedy, so they needed more F-bombs and a lot of genitalia jokes.

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