A rom-com for dudes

McClatchyJanuary 31, 2014 

Miles Teller, from left, Michael B. Jordan and Zac Efron star in “That Awkward Moment.”

NICOLE RIVELLI/FOCUS FEATURES

“So” is how “That Awkward Moment” begins every awkward moment. As in “So, what are we doing here?” or “So, where do you see this relationship going?”

That’s the dating man’s lesson of this film, that “For girls, nothing good ever comes after ‘So.’” It’s a chatty romantic comedy in the modern mode – rude, nude and crude – with some funny, writerly riffs on relationships and how to avoid them.

There are laughs, in the lead couple’s “meet cute” moment in a bar, when she (Imogen Poots) trots out that fortune-telling trick common to sex-obsessed sitcoms: rebuffing a suitor by forecasting an entire failed relationship based on how a guy is dressed, the manner of his approach and his lame pick-up line.

But the movie never lets us forget that it’s trying too hard, straining to spit out sexy, silly patter, reaching for that raunchy costume failure at a dinner party, grasping for gross takes on trips to the toilet.

Zac Efron, Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now”) and Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”) play three New York pals who vow, when the doctor of the trio (played by Jordan) is dumped by his wife, to stay single and enjoy the mingling. Together, they will build “a roster” of booty calls. And the moment a woman starts “the talk” with “So,” they’ll bail. That’s the plan.

Which all of them ignore. Jason (Efron), a smart-aleck designer of book covers, falls for this cute one-night-stand, Ellie (Poots), who works for a publishing house. The hilarious chatterbox Daniel (Teller) starts to realize that his gorgeous, able-bodied lady wingman (Mackenzie Davis) is all the woman he’d ever need. And Mikey (Jordan) clings to the hope that his cheating lawyer wife (Jessica Lucas) will hear his reasoned, “We checked off all the boxes” appeal to maintain their partnership masquerading as a marriage.

“That Awkward Moment” is a writer’s comedy, and it’s easy to see why this cast was drawn to Tom Gormican’s script. But “That Awkward Moment” is overfamiliar, a movie that plays like recycled, R-rated outtakes from “How I Met Your Mother.”

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT

* * *

Cast: Zac Efron, Imogen Poots, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas

Director: Tom Gormican

Running time: 1:34

Rated: R; sexual content and language throughout

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