For 21st Century men, our very nature seems to either be under fire these days or is being fastidiously duplicated by the opposite sex. Who can blame them: loose and wild women who see men as trophies to be collected is probably fair for the course, thanks to our continued efforts to remain mustangs ourselves, roaming the land for new mares. The comedy That Awkward Moment wants desperately to lead that discussion, but instead it leaves us as unsatisfied as a one-night stand generally can be.
Successful book cover designers Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) enjoy the sexuality of New York City, building an impressive 'roster' of women they can 'visit' once a week without having any real connection. Their friend Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) isn't so lucky: his marriage is about to end, forcing him to bunk with Jason and endure Daniel's snide comments over the look of Mikey's penis. Over cups of coffee, the guys decide to swear off serious relationships, until Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots) and Daniel decides to shack up with long-time friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). As their decisions unfold, the guys must decide whether to share their changing priorities or keep up appearances so that the 'Bros Before Ho's' code won't be violated.
The problem with Moment is that none of it feels particularly inspired, accurate, or even well-done. The suggestion that American men and women are switching roles, or that females have somehow become 'looser' isn't even applicable to the 20s/30s generation it pretends to mirror. Constantly bombarded these days with messages of sexual deviancy - along with the pressures of staying ultra-thin in an effort to attract other ultra-thin types - must make this age group think that Hollywood is Hell-bent on reclassifying them for their own uses. Writer/Director Tom Gormican doesn't understand young people whatsoever: rather than establishing himself as the next John Hughes, he's content to show bare-butted Viagra-enhanced males on toilets who are constantly immersed in coffee cups and cheap Bulleit bourbon, while pining for their ladies without a sense of why they feel this way. Rather than a raucously hilarious Hangover-type of ending, we are subjected to an overly-emotional love-in, complete with empty declarations and man tears. Any 20/30-somethings hoping to glean a moment of inspiration about dating and love in the 21st Century might emerge assuming that a good screw and a cup of coffee solves all.
Moment also sports decidedly unfunny performances, especially during the third act, when any sense of comedy is replaced with the requisite 'damage control' plot. Teller is the only bright spot here, content to whittle away with funny ad-libs before being pulled down by that same dull seriousness. His admission of dating guilt (and the reasons for his self-imposed predicament) seem out of place because he and Efron are so unconvincing. Given this is a chick flick, most women might overlook these massive faults and maddening e to find Efron's abs and butt appealing, especially during his teary-eyed monologue as he attempts to re-woo Potts, whose mousy stature looks plainly unhealthy. The two have zero chemistry and neither have the dramatic skills to move their characters into any believable territory beyond mere cockiness. Another disappointment is Jordan's extremely limited performance - his portrayal in Fruitvale Station was impressive, but here Gormican simply paints him as an overly-emotional trainwreck, content to drink wine and eat chocolate ice cream the moment his wife lays down the bad news.
In the end, That Awkward Moment's mildly amusing antics are not enough to cover up the flawed and unfunny narrative that modern younger men are somehow becoming different beings than the rest of their tribe. If they are in fact acting less 'like men" by becoming more sensitive and addicted to chocolate and wine, Moment never makes a compelling case, barely taking our characters below the superficial jokes to expose the inner workings of our sex. This might make a desirable stay-at-home Netflix date, but its premise and performances make it impossible to recommend waiting in line for it. That Awkward Moment is rated R for sexual content and language throughout and has a runtime of 94 minutes.
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