‘That Awkward Moment’ When a Movie Doesn’t Know What It Wants to Be
For That Awkward Moment, the titular phrase refers to the turning point at which a casual hook-up becomes a potential love interest. For viewers, it symbolizes the uneasy blips in the Tom Gormican film as it tries to distinguish what type of movie it wants to be.
Like a girl deciding what to wear on a first date, Moment switches between many things. Though its dialogue — the talks of testosterone-filled mancaves and “sad giraffe” penises — attempts to veil itself as male-centric comedy a la I Love You, Man, the movie follows the same conventions of a typical chick flick.
Jason (Zac Efron) is a essentially a male millennial’s dream: a single twenty-something with swagger, working and playing in Manhattan, going through a “roster” of women that he can drop any minute when his fling wants them to become serious. His friend Daniel (Miles Teller) is in the similar position, though he needs to rely more on wit and wing-woman Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) to help him score.
When their pal Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) finds out his wife has been cheating on him, the three bros make a pact to stay relationship-free. Unfortunately, that is where the film’s formulaic rom-com moments — and its disjointedness — comes in.
However applaudable it is that Moments focuses on all three mains in different types of relationships — dating a new girl, dating a close friend and dating an ex — as opposed to demoting Teller and Jordan as mere sidekicks, the movie fails to completely decide what it wants to be. As Jason and Ellie’s (Imogen Poots) relationship moves towards a serious one, the film shoots itself in the foot by interspersing unnecessarily crude jokes throughout a supposedly sweet story. At times, it feels as though the movies itself thinks it’s too “chick flick-y” and, desperately trying to be male-friendly, sacrifices organic story for toilet humor.
As much as Moments tries to stress that it’s a guy’s guy, its most redeeming factor ironically lies within its female characters. Vulnerability alone, Ellie — especially after being ditched at her own father’s funeral — and Chelsea portray more depth than their male counterparts. That’s why when Jason tries to win back Ellie by reciting an impromptu poem about their first encounter (the same stunt Efron pulls in 17 Again), his transformation from playboy to boyfriend seems insincere.
In all, the film flip-flops as much as its characters on whether or not they’re in a relationship. However, unlike Jason, Moments fails to make up its mind.