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New Release Review - That Awkward Moment

Three male friends struggle with their relationships with the opposite sex.

Directed by: Tom Gormican
Starring: Zac Efron, Michael B Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Addison Timlin, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas


When Mikey (Jordan) learns that his wife (Lucas) is leaving him for her lawyer, his two best friends, Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Teller), make a pact vowing the trio will remain single and simply use women for casual sex. All three, however, come to struggle with their vow. Mikey misses his wife too much, Daniel falls for his platonic friend and wingwoman Chelsea (Davis), while Jason becomes embroiled in a passionate romance with young writer Ellie (Poots). Can the trio stick to their "bros before hos" pact?
For a long time, we've known exactly what to expect from Hollywood romantic comedies and it's this predictability that largely makes the genre so popular. The standard plotline essentially revolves around three character archetypes. We have our hero, a plain (at least by Hollywood standards; it's generally a hot actress wearing glasses) but pleasant girl or nerdy but nice guy, the object of their affection, and the villain, usually a square-jawed jock or high cheek-boned bimbo. Over the last decade we've seen something of a shift in this dynamic, with the sort of characters who were once the genre's bad guys (or girls) now the ones we're asked to root for. The plain but witty heroes of old are a dying breed as Hollywood now prefers to focus on stories simply involving beautiful people hooking up with each other.
That Awkward Moment is the worst example of this worrying new trend I've yet seen. With the exception of Michael B Jordan's unfeasibly athletic and under-worked doctor, the protagonists are a despicable bunch of misogynists, so repulsive that it's simply impossible to wish well of them. Teller is playing an older, but certainly no more mature, version of the sociopathic git he essayed in last year's 21 & Over, a movie whose portrayal of western "civilization" prompted me to consider joining a Himalayan Buddhist retreat. The usually affable Efron's character is even worse, a conservative minded hypocrite who thinks it's fine for him to spread his seed around Manhattan but immediately jumps to the conclusion that Poots is a hooker simply because she keeps a box of condoms by her bed.
 I can't think of three worse role models for young women than the trio of idiots played here by Poots, Davis and Timlin. We're asked to believe Poots is a successful author yet she falls for Efron like a 14 year old cheerleader for a quarterback. He treats her despicably yet she keeps taking the social neanderthal back, as does Timlin, his "booty call" who is happy to call over to Efron's place at all hours of the morning, believing he's on the verge of getting serious about their relationship. Then we have Davis, who falls for the obnoxious and rude Teller, despite the fact he's spent the past several years using her as an "in" with girls for casual sex.
At the midway point I was starting to think the film was about to take a twist into First Wives Club territory, with its trio of put upon females getting revenge on Efron and Teller, but writer-director Gormican is seemingly under the illusion that he's created male leads worth rooting for. 
That Awkward Moment is a film only a date rapist could appreciate. I doubt we'll see a more misogynous movie this year, certainly not one with "comic" out-takes alongside its closing credits. 
3/10


Eric Hillis

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