Saturday, June 7, 2014

That Awkward Moment: A Review


What exactly is That Awkward Moment?  Is it a.) a story of contemporary relationships, b.) a big misfire, or c.) a chance to humiliate some of the best young actors around? 

Well, it certainly isn't Option A. 

That Awkward Moment is a painful, boring, poorly-planned, clichéd, badly-written/directed/acted horror, insipid instead of insightful, something that one watches in stunned disbelief at how everyone involved apparently doesn't know how films work.

Mickey (Michael B. Jordan) is not handling the news of his impending divorce well.  He doesn't want it, but his wife Vera (Jessica Lucas), who has been having an affair with her lawyer Harold (D.B. Woodside, apparently filling in for Morris Chestnut whom he keeps getting compared to) is determined to end the marriage.  Mickey fortunately (or not) has two single friends, Daniel (Miles Teller), who has an easy way with women and is not interested in having a girlfriend (let alone settle down), and Jason (Zac Efron), who dumps women as soon as a girl asks the "So" question.  The "So" Question is when a girl asks, "So, where is this relationship going?" Daniel and Jason work together as book cover designers, and use their skills with women to show their artistic skills.

Mickey avoids the Girl with Glasses (Kate Simms), who is obviously attracted to him, in order to pursue his soon-to-be-ex-wife.  Daniel has a casual relationship with Chelsea (Mackenzie Daniels) who is there to help him out in picking up women.  Jason for his part begins an awkward relationship with Ellie (Imogen Poots), an author whom he first thought was a hooker.  The rest of the movie goes into their separate relationships, with Daniel finding love with the girl right in front of him, Jason finding that he too will ask the "So" question, and that Mickey perhaps should really let go and move on.

There is bad, there is clumsy, then there's this.  That Awkward Moment has no sense to it, and I don't mean sense as in 'logic' (though there is that problem too).  It just has no sense of what it wants to be and no sense of what it wants to say or no sense to its existence.  Writer/director Tom Gormican has a pretty solid cast who are game for what he wants to do (a contemporary take from the male side on relationships with a little crass humor) but he bungles it again and again in shockingly inept, even tragic ways.

Scenes lurch from one to another without a cohesive whole.  There is nothing tying the various moments together.  It's almost like watching a series of outtakes strung together in an effort to make a movie.

Gormican's dialogue is also a major problem.  There is an effort to make people sound cool and smart but it only sounds weak, tired, and clichéd to the point where even a second-rate sitcom would reject both the words and situations.  Some truly awful moments involve our trio of himbos taking too much Viagra, which ends up making both Jason and Daniel have excessively erect penises (forcing them to urinate precariously over the toilets) and Mickey (who is suppose to be the most sensitive and sensible of the trio) accidentally using bronzer to ejaculate to (and turning his penis into, in the words of one of them, 'a traffic cone').  Somehow, seeing two and a half good actors (Efron being the half) humiliate themselves to such a degree is rather sad.

An equally bad moment is when all the characters find themselves in Chelsea's family home for Thanksgiving (which I think is what they do: Jason avoiding going to his family for reasons never explained).  What ARE the odds Jason would go to the bathroom just as Chelsea and Daniel (who've been carrying on an affair despite their mutual pledge to avoid all relationships) were about to get it on, or that Mickey would somehow end up there too?  Even worse, in what can only be called 'predictable', all their secrets tumble out at the same time.

Then there is a scene where Ellie tells Jason she's having a 'dress-up' birthday party.  Now, I understood 'dress-up' to mean suit and tie, but somehow, in the ways of bad comedies, Jason decides that this is the perfect time to 'dress-up' with a giant dildo, to which he shows up with to rather stunned friends and her parents.  No worries, as Jason's natural charm overcomes their horror at having this dildo fall into Ellie's mother's drink, which happens to be a cocktail (get it). 

Oddly, for a movie about lifelong friends it doesn't seem that Jason, Mickey, and Daniel have anything in common or have a relationship that goes beyond making 'clever quips' to and at each other.

Worse, it has situations and characters (like Josh Pais' Fred) who have no role or purpose in any of this (except perhaps to stretch the movie's running time). 

I think both Jordan and Teller tried to make it work, but not even their talents could lift their sorry material.  I felt especially bad for Teller, whose Daniel was a very low-rent version of Sutter from The Spectacular Now, except that Sutter had a heart and soul.  Daniel was just a blank.

Curiously, and this rarely happens, the movie was far from being over (and it felt centuries longer than its 94 minute running time) and I could already mark what grade it was going to get.  The only reason I finished it was because I wanted to see if it could pull itself out of the abyss it was painfully diving in headfirst.  Sadly, it couldn't.

It almost makes you feel sad for everyone involved in all this.  Almost, because you think, 'they HAD to be paid well to do this slop'. 

The Awkward Now is a disaster of a movie.

It's an awful thing to watch.

It's not funny.  It's boring.  How boring?  I was so bored I started paying my bills while watching.

That Awkward Moment might be this year's After Earth.  It certainly is on the same level as The Big Wedding, and those aren't compliments. 

No, it's not, and Miles, please
apologize for this...


1 comment:

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Thank you.