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|That Awkward Moment|
dir-scr Tom Gormican
prd Scott Aversano, Justin Nappi, Andrew O'Connor, Kevin Turen
with Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas, Addison Timlin, Josh Pais, Evelina Turen, Joseph Adams, John Rothman, Emily Meade
release UK 29.Jan.14, US 31.Jan.14
Single in solidarity: Efron and Jordan
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A likeable cast can't make up for a shallow, pointless script that stirs three simplistic romantic comedies together. It feels like cut-rate Richard Curtis, actually. And while there's some effective manipulation in the romantic dramas, the comedy is only mildly amusing without being funny.
In New York, three university friends are enjoying their late-20s. Jason (Efron) keeps women at arm's length, dumping them when they get serious. Daniel (Teller) uses comedy to woo girls with the help of his pal Chelsea (Davis). And Mikey (Jordan) is a happily married doctor. So when Mikey's wife Vera (Lucas) leaves him, his two pals vow to stay single in solidarity. Of course, they all immediately enter secret relationships: Jason meets the sparky Ellie (Poots), Daniel and Chelsea fall for each other, and Mikey tries to patch things up with Vera.
The main problem is that even writer-director Gormican doesn't seem to believe any of this. For what is essentially a sex comedy, the intimacy is remarkably unconvincing. There is never a hint of real physical attraction between any of the characters, and even the bromance feels oddly tamed by a fear of showing any true affection on-screen. All of the edges have been so sanded down that the movie feels like a cautionary after-school drama with bad language and a bit of badly simulated naughtiness.
Even though they're emasculated by the tame script, the three leads are still watchable. Efron brings some soulfulness to the role, but Jason's huge flat is far-fetched for a book-jacked designer. And his callous womanising is never remotely believable. Teller adds plenty of energy, while Jordan stirs in some dramatic subtext. But the female characters are so badly underwritten that it's impossible for anyone to generate even a hint of chemistry.
In the end, the whole film boils down to one simplistic theme: love means being there when someone needs you. But this is more of a plot point than an important truth. And while the slick filmmaking manages to find some resonant emotional moments in the final act, the script's wobbly structural underpinnings and clanky narrative make it fairly impossible for us to enjoy the film on any level beyond the eye candy.
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