By Steve Greene | Criticwire January 31, 2014 at 9:49AM
Barbed Wire is the place where Criticwire celebrates the art of the pan. Here's where you'll find the roughest, toughest, funniest reviews, with easy access links to both article and author so you can follow more of their work.
Like most of the kinds of films that lend themselves to a post like this, the timing of That Awkward Moment is a bit curious. Coming off one of the best Sundances in years, two stars who headline Tom Gormican's writing-directing debut made waves at last year's festival (Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station and Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now).
That Awkward Moment also generated a little extra confusion ahead of its release when some critics were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement in advance of attending an advance screening. But now that the embargo is lifted, the flood of reviews that have flowed forth have been less than favorable. (The current, albeit early, Criticwire grade average stands at C-.)
The film follows three twentysomething men (Jordan, Teller and Zac Efron) who, despite their best attempts to avoid vague and tricky romantic entanglements, find that they're unable to do so. Along the way, the raunch factor gets dialed up in both their conversations and antics (among them, an episode involving a prevalent pharmaceutical drug that rhymes with "Shmiagra"). While critics are somewhat split on the effectiveness of that main trio, the general consensus is that they make the most of the material they're given.
Most writers can't avoid throwing in a good title-based pun, but we managed to find some good zingers and incisive commentary that didn't involve popular Internet shorthand or the word "awkward."
So here they are, ten choice excerpts from ten Smurftastic reviews of "That Awkward Moment":
"While nearly everyone’s apartment is far bigger than it should believably be (though Mikey and Vera’s place looks about right for a young career couple), it seems as if the set design team at least got a banger of a deal on ikat textiles (everyone’s sheets and curtains look oddly similar)."
"That Awkward Moment is a movie starring guys who could only exist in a movie, about guys who watch too many movies, in a world constructed entirely out of movies. How much more digestible can it get? The sequel is just going to be a series of zeroes and ones that you ingest via feeding tube."
"At first, he mistakes her for a prostitute: an error that doesn’t make a scrap of sense, but which sets up some very laboured material about Jason the book-cover designer being the kind of person who has to – oh-ho! – learn not to judge a book by its cover. (He carefully explains the irony to Ellie over coffee the following morning.)"
"This is essentially a testosterone-pumped, fantasy tutorial on how man-boys can graciously achieve monogamy, yet still remain pickup-line-dependent pricks with engorged egos."
"Teens and twentysomethings who possess even less life experience and emotional maturity than these characters may find profundity in some of this. All others need not apply."
"Instead of witty banter, we get first-draft script notes. 'I did what I was supposed to do. I checked all the boxes,' moans the guy whose defining character trait is that he did what he was supposed to do and checked all the boxes. 'I get people to believe in the surface,' explains the boy who can only form surface-level relationships with women."
"The hell of That Awkward Moment lies in waste. This could have been a winner...Who doesn’t want to live in a universe where Efron and Teller problem-solve peeing with an erection by lying stomach-down on the john, or where Jordan alternates between masturbating and sucking down spoonfuls of Ben & Jerry’s?"
"Such moments of supposed sincerity may be intended as redemptive, but in the context of characters who are likely to, say, arrive at a “dress-up party” wearing a 'Rock Out With Your Cock Out' costume, strap-on dildo and all—and then refuse to change or leave—they become apparent for what they are: acts of stupidity masquerading as romance."
"Out of a strained sense of solidarity, all of them will remain single. Of course, this is a transparent, desperate ploy to extend the good old young and single days, shirking the responsibilities of old age. (All the actors, by the way, are only 26.)"
"You'll notice there has been little mention of the women in the film, and that's because they are afterthoughts in the story...Acting as narrative goalposts, they stand in the distance waiting for the churning engine of this movie to go through the obvious motions wherein our heroes must make the standard One Grand Romantic Gesture to win back their hearts."
And, in the spirit of fairness, one rebuttal:
"But while it's easy to tease first-time writer-director Tom Gormican's raunchy rom-com, the trio has a shaggy chemistry, and most of the jokes hit — so many, in fact, that when the lads vow that they'll never, ever, have girlfriends again, we don't actually think they're serious until the rushed final act, when we realize that was supposed to be a plot point."