Zac Efron is branching out from his heartthrob image and is now in the more adult, blokey phase of his career. To be fair, it’s a part that fits him pretty well, and That Awkward Moment, while clearly a vehicle for his talents, has plenty more going for it than just him. It’s bawdy, funny, charming and easy to watch, and gets to the point pretty economically. It’s only real weakness is the casting of Imogen Poots, but more of her later.
Efron is Jason, a book cover designer who is enjoying the life of a single man in New York. When his pal Mikey (Michel B. Jordan) announces he is divorcing his wife (Jessica Lucas) he, Jason and Daniel (Miles Teller) form a pact, to remain single to help each other out in bars, keep each other company and always be there for each other.
The problem is that tricky thing life keeps getting in the way. Mikey’s wife suddenly reappears, apparently wanting to start again. The gang have a gal pal, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) who they use to lure women, but Daniel’s friendship seems to be tilting over into something deeper. Then Jason, who has a “roster” of casual girlfriends, meets Ellie (Poots) and again their relationship quickly moves from casual to something more permanent. Will the pact hold?
A huge part of the appeal of the film is that Efron gives equal screen time to his pals, who make the most of it. Teller in particular is a natural screen presence, hugely witty and engaging, and his friendship with Chelsea is believable. He even handles a paparazzi photographer with ease during filming – revealed in the out-takes at the end credits, declaring: “Hell, they aren’t here to take pictures of me dude!”
The only real weakness of the performance of Poots, who is wearing her kooky, ditzy charm perilously thin. She gets some great lines to fire at Efron, but they have little chemistry together and she seems to be content to sit on a park bench looking vaguely bored for much of the time. It’s a shame, as in the right hands it could have been a winning role.
In awards season That Awkward Moment clearly isn’t going to get much attention – it’s hardly heavyweight stuff – but if you want some light relief and a few laughs it could be perfect. Efron’s younger fans should be warned though, it’s pretty expletive-laden stuff, and not above a few frat boy jokes involving Viagra – one of the many visual jokes.
Overall verdict: Enjoyably bawdy comedy with a winning script and likeable characters. It’s slight but perfectly watcheable.
Reviewer: Mike Martin