That Awkward Moment (2014)

That Awkward MomentReleased: January 31, 2014. Directed by: Tom Gormican. Starring: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller. Runtime: 94 min.

“That Awkward Moment” is a film about relationships. Its title derives from the film’s idea that in every relationship, there is a moment where one of the partners asks “Where is this going?” Often times, that moment can be awkward; but not when the guy already knows the answer. The film presents the idea that, when the moment comes, just get out of that relationship. Because, you know, screw comittment! Casual sex takes precedence! Go to bars, meet women, and build up a roster, so you can have sex every day of the week with a different woman. Apparently, we’re becoming more and more polygamous. There’s nothing like a chick for every day of the week. It feels as if this film is designed in such a way, it might work better as a very short book of tips.

There is a story here. Jason (Zac Efron) is a young gun living in New York who is in the book and magazine cover designing business. His business partner is one of his best friends, Daniel (Miles Teller); and his other best friend, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) is a doctor. Mikey is in his mid-20s and is getting divorced from his first wife, Vera (Jessica Lucas). It sounds pretty rough, considering how young he is. She’s cheating with a guy who looks like Morris Chestnut, no less. Who looks like Morris Chestnut?! Well, Morris Chestnut looks like Morris Chestnut; and apparently this guy does, too. Anyway, the basic story is that, in support of their best friend Mikey, they make a pact that they’re all going to stay single. Yeah. RIGHT. They’re all going to say no to love. As with every romantic comedy, they all pretty much set their eye on a woman simultaneously, and then don’t tell their friends about their intentions because they don’t want to back out on the pact. Jason likes a new girl in town fresh out of college, Ellie (Imogen Poots); Daniel begins to like his wing-woman Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis); and Mikey decides to give things a shot with Vera, again.

The film has so many ideas about dating, but they use mostly generic characters to depict it. The idea they didn’t portray, was that it’s probably never a good idea to have a girl as your wing-man, because you’re eventually going to think, as far as films teach people, “Hey… I don’t like this girl picking up other dudes; she should screw me, instead, out of respect!” Granted, it does seem like an okay idea at first.

One thing’s that funny is that the film only has enough awkward moments that you can count them on one hand. I won’t spoil them all, but they’re there. Jason confuses Ellie for a prostitute when they first meet, and then leaves because he doesn’t have money for a hooker (Poots would be one of those high-end $1000 an hour hookers, I think). Some awkward moments induce crude laughs, but only one or two that are memorable. Another awkward moment that the film depicts is the miscommunication with all the texting, because if one person says “We need to talk” in a text, the other might just have instant anxiety. Communication is key, folks.

One final awkward moment that I detected is the fact that all the women have sex with their clothes on. Well, Poots is naked but she has her comforter covering herself. Yet, both Teller and Efron show their butts. Boo! I want female skin! For Efron, this film might just be used for him as a gateway film for cruder things, perhaps he is preparing us for “Neighbors.” He swears, he gets nude, and he screws, but there’s still a romantic under all that cockiness. At least his sex scene here is less awkward than that one he shared with Taylor Schilling in “The Lucky One.” He’s a character afraid of comittment, because aren’t we all once in awhile? He also gets depicted as the biggest douche in the film in some ways, something Efron isn’t the strongest at playing, and it’s a role usually reserved for Teller (at least with my experience with his roles). Seeing him as a nicer guy than his roles in “21 and Over” and “Project X” with the ability to actually respect woman in a way, enables me to like him a bit more. A bit. I don’t think I’ll see the star potential until I watch “The Spectacular Now,” however.

The acting is natural for a film that has awkward in the title, and the cast is pretty good. I fell in love with Poots’ performance here, and her charming presence is welcome. She’s playing the most layered character of the movie, an independent woman meaning to land on her feet and get her life going in a big city. All the actors are talented to some degree (Michael B. Jordan especially; and Davis is a pleasant surprise for me), but they’re just working with a script that is heavy on the romantic aspect, but the laughs can be counted on two hands and they’re far between each other. Not good for a comedy!

Score50/100

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21 and Over (2013)

21 and OverReleased: March 1, 2013. Directed by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore. Starring: Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin. Runtime: 93 min.

Since I’m turning 19 today, I thought this would be an okay film for the occasion. I’m not turning 21 anytime soon, but the legal drinking age in Canada is 19 – and I don’t think there are any movies out there called “19 and Over, Eh?” This was on my PVR so I thought I’d give it a watch. Even though this is from the writers of “The Hangover,” it’s still a bit more like “Project X” – so that’s a misstep. At least this movie has a half-decent storyline and isn’t shot in the found footage format.

Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) is turning twenty-one years old, and two of his high school best pals, Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) are hell-bent on giving him the night of his life, all on the eve of a big medical school interview. They take him out and show him a good time, just like they intended to do; but when Jeff passes out, neither Miller or Casey can remember his address to get him home. And his father is a total dick(tator), so if they don’t get him home in time, someone’s gonna get hurt real bad. The two friends go on a charade of finding someone who might know where Jeff lives, but it’s going to prove to be harder than they thought.

Friends are made during; Casey gets a love interest named Nicole (Sarah Wright), and an eccentric character called the Chief, who looks kind-of like Chris Elliot. Friendships are also in-genuinely tested. Ridiculous villains surface, like a person who Jeff accidentally hits with a dart; and a fraternity of Latin college girls, and how they become villains is somewhat amusing but predictable.

It’s a little bit disappointing that Jeff is passed out for a fair majority of the film, because he’s sorta funny while he’s drunk. The sight gag while he’s half-streaking is a little priceless. He has a bra on and a teddy bear glued to his privates. What happens later is a bit disturbing regarding that. It’s sort-of another sight gag taken out of the “Harold and Kumar” franchise’s handbook, and that isn’t the only thing. Jeff mirrors Kumar; they both have medical interviews the next day, and their dads play heavy influences in their lives to become doctors.

The film analyses the true stresses of university fairly well, and that’s something one doesn’t see very often in stupid college movies. And this movie is very stupid, too. It’s also disappointing that Jeff is passed out a lot, because he’s only likeable character in the movie (other than Nicole). You won’t be forgetting Chang’s any time soon, because Casey and Miller combined annoyingly say his name at least fifty times. They never say a simple ‘Jeff’, it’s always his full name. It would be a decent drinking game for people who want to get wasted  if you take a shot every time they say his name. Oddly enough, Casey or Miller don’t even have last names that get revealed to us!

I chuckled occasionally during, and laughed out loud probably about five or six times. (The first laugh-out-loud moment comes in the form of urination twenty-four minutes in.) But that isn’t enough to keep me satisfied during this film because the plot’s just very silly and a waste of time. Miller is occasionally racist and very unlikeable and he swears a lot, and there’s a running joke of him (a what, 21 or 22-year-old) where he wants to screw Casey’s sixteen-year-old sister. I don’t mind constant swearing in comedies – but it has to make me laugh or be occasionally amusing, but once a film just swears just to swear and the jokes constantly miss, it becomes bothersome.

Casey’s likeable sometimes but he still doesn’t treat his friend with much respect and I didn’t really care for him – the friendships just aren’t believable. Astin as Casey doesn’t have many memorable lines, and he is extremely bland. His performance in “Pitch Perfect” must have been a fluke because he is so boring here. Miller might be unlikeable because he doesn’t give a crap about Chang’s future because he forces him to go out that night, but he does have a few memorable lines. He’s one of those lazy characters that doesn’t apply himself. The character arcs are just lame.

The whole movie’s lame, really. At least “Project X” had a lot of boobs, this has three pairs and they’re all forgettable and very quick, but a funny spanking scene might just make up for it. There are lame bar montages and some disgusting sight gags, but the funny ones make up for one gross slow motion one. There’s a scene where the film shows some potential in a series of drinking games but the film falls flat again. Some occurrences don’t make sense and are just random to keep the film going. Anyway, If you liked “Project X”, you might like this, because it’s a bit stronger than that crappy party movie – but if you didn’t like that film, just avoid this one, too.

Score38/100