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Hollow ‘Awkward Moment’ strikes out

In desperate search of a reason for its existence, I’ve spent much of the last three days attempting to wrap my brain around That Awkward Moment.

That Awkward Moment
Rating: R
Running time: 94 min.
Stars: Zack Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller

Much to my chagrin, I have repeatedly come up empty.

This latest Hollywood manufactured rom-com, poised to make audience swoon in their seats, is a treacherous and tactless turd of a film that has no business taking your time, money and energy.

Directed and written by Tom Gormican, “That Awkward Moment” is a misogynistic tale of male camaraderie, revolving around three men weathering the sexual storm that is their roaring 20s.

For the first time in years, Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) are all single and ready to mingle.

And by mingle, I mean go out on the town (in this case New York City), pick up a woman or two and then subsequently sleep with them.

All of this is an attempt to create an ironclad roster of gorgeous women to have no-strings-attached sex with (definition: partners willing to take you up on that booty call at 1 a.m.).

A damper is put on the sex-fueled festivities when our triumvirate of male characters uniformly come at a daunting impasse: A real relationship.

Of course, because movies like “That Awkward Moment”— insipid, trite and asinine — conveniently eschew honesty at all costs, Jason, Daniel and Mikey continue to lie to one another.

In their minds, falling in love and entangling themselves in a committed relationship would destroy the solidarity they’ve worked so vigorously to preserve.

That Awkward Moment captures an element of humanity that is unquestionably identifiable for most people. There comes a point in just about every serious romance where there is uncertainty as to how to proceed.

It’s a matter of progression versus regression. You either end the series of sexual encounters, or you opt to turns this thing — whatever the hell it may be — into something real and genuine.

What’s sad is that Gormican flounders a good opportunity to comedically and vulgarly explore this terrain. Instead of comically dissecting why males fear commitment, That Awkward Moment paints the same tired caricatures we’ve seen all throughout the annals of cinema.

This, unfortunately, is exacerbated by a plethora of genital jokes and the marginalization of every woman character in the film (especially Ellie played by Imogen Poots).

Also a misfire is Gormican’s focal point: Efron’s dull Jason. Efron’s performance is trying and tiresome as he attempts to pull off the smooth and charismatic fast-talking generally employed by Vince Vaughn (think Swingers and Wedding Crashers).

The result is a wholly unlikable human being who takes screen time away from his more interesting counterparts, Daniel and Mikey.

Teller (The Spectacular Now) and Jordan (Fruitvale Station) manage to add some depth to their underwritten characters. These two produce witty one-liners that don’t feel forced, and interact with each other (and their respective female partners) with at least a modicum of sincerity.

The key to any quality romantic-comedy is a basic understanding of the intrinsic insanity of falling in love. Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally, 500 Days of Summer, these films don’t insult the intelligence of their audience. They engage with them.

Because at the end of the day these movies — though fictional and blown all out of proportion — are telling our stories.

That Awkward Moment may reflect fragments of the world we live in, but it seems unconcerned with making us laugh or reminding us why we continue — “boats against the current,” as F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote — in the cyclical spiral of love.

That Awkward Moment is neither romantic, nor comedic. Just idiotic.

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