It's possible Judge Michael Nazarewycz is having an awkward moment right now.
When you realize getting some means wanting more.
The general consensus is that 2013 was a great year for movies, and I concur. In addition to the films produced, though, there were some genuine breakout performances from talented young actors. Two actors who left an impression on me were Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station and Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now. When I saw these two were starring in a film together, I was interested. When I saw they were starring alongside Zac Efron, another young talent willing to take chances and break away from his High School Musical image, I was all-in. Caveat emptor, as the saying goes.
Facts of the Case
Jason, Daniel, and Mikey (Efron, Teller, and Jordan respectively) are college friends. Jason and Daniel are single and work together at a publishing house, while Mikey is a young married doctor. All three men might have great careers, but they also have relationship problems. For Jason and Daniel, their problem is they don't want relationships, they want hook-ups. For Mikey, his problem is that his wife Vera (Jessica Lucas, Cloverfield) wants a divorce.
When Jason and Daniel take Mikey out to commiserate (and try to get him a girl), the two perpetual bachelors find themselves at the beginning of something special. Daniel develops feelings for Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis, Smashed), a gal-pal and someone who routinely acts as his wingman. For Jason, evolution comes in the form of Ellie (Imogen Poots, 28 Weeks Later), a writer he sleeps with and slips away from in the middle of the night, only to meet her soon after at the publisher where he works. As Mikey struggles to make his marriage work, Jason and Daniel struggle with their feelings for their respective ladies and the promise they made to each other (and Mikey) to remain single no matter what.
When you look at the great romantic comedies of the last 30 years, the characters central to the complications are either genuinely good people who simply make mistakes (Billy Crystal's Harry Burns in When Harry Met Sally) or are considerably flawed people who stumble through life as they work on improving themselves (Bradley Cooper's Pat in Silver Linings Playbook). It is easy to sympathize with these characters and others like them, because at their core they are noble and sincere. We want them to succeed.
Therein lies the core problem with That Awkward Moment. The men in this film (mostly Jason and Daniel) do not know nobility or sincerity, so we do not sympathize with them when things go wrong. And as for wanting their success, by the end of the film, I found myself rooting only for Jason's misery.
These are men who refer to the female collective as "The Roster." They measure relationships in hours and would rather use charm to get out of a jam than use honesty to avoid getting into the jam in the first place. Second only to loyalty to themselves is loyalty to each other, with loyalty to women coming a distant third. "Bros before hos" is never uttered in this film, but the way these three behave, I expected them to embrace and whisper it to each other, a la "Hail Hydra."
This isn't to say that a life of one-night-stands is wrong. I'm not that kind of judge. However, when this is how you live, someone calls shenanigans and you suffer for it, that's your fault and you will not get my sympathy. Live by the sword, die by the sword…and by "sword" I mean "penis."
Without spoiling anything, here is a taste of the three main characters…
Well into their relationship, when Ellie experiences a tragedy in her life, Jason intentionally elects to NOT be there for her because that would mean they are dating.
When Chelsea asks Daniel what the other two guys think about their blossoming romance, he lies to her and tells her how happy they are for him. The truth is he hasn't told them at all.
Mikey routinely lies to the guys about his whereabouts so he won't have to confess to them that he is trying to make his marriage work.
It's like three men living Hollywood-fied New York City existences, with great jobs and great apartments and great looks and great clothes. Except those three men are high school freshmen.
What's unfortunate is that the three guys work well together, enough that with better material this could become a franchise. Their chemistry is strong, their banter is entertaining, and a lot of their interaction feels like it's ad-libbed. (The extras offer conflicting reports on just how much was ad-libbed.) As for the humor, it's raunchy. Like any comedy, some of it works (with a few genuine laugh-out-loud moments) and some of it doesn't. Everyone has their funny moments, but Teller carries the bulk of the comedic weight. Still, those funny moments aren't enough to compensate for the vapid characterization of these single men and the hollow lives they lead.
The 2.40:1/1080p presentation of That Awkward Moment (Blu-ray) is very good, especially in lower-lit interiors, which are as sharp and crisp as daytime cityscapes. The audio is just as impressive. While a good portion of the film relies on basic dialogue, there are numerous bar and club scenes with a lot of competing noise that the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track manages well.
In addition to an Ultraviolet digital copy of the film, there are four extras. The first is "Moment of Truth: Behind the Scenes," a featurette running 9:40 and offering interviews with the actors and director about casting, working together, and shooting in New York City. "Threesome: More Awkward Moments" is a 9:07 featurette with the three male leads discussing their characters and how what they go through in the film translates to real life. "Character Profiles" is not what it sounds like. This is a 3:53 collection of quick-hit trailer/interview combos that offer you a glimpse of the type of characters the three male leads and Ellie are. The 3:40 "Extended Gag Reel" is just that, featuring additional outtakes that didn't (and a few that did) make the outtakes that run with the closing credits.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Michael B. Jordan is The Goods. He is fantastic in this film, easily stealing the show from heartthrob Zac Efron and lovable goof Miles Teller. Granted, Jordan's character is the deepest of the three and NOT deplorable, so Jordan has the best material to work with. Mikey can't understand where he went wrong and Jordan really delivers a great combination of loss and befuddlement and regret. As he tries to figure things out, he utters, "I checked the boxes." He did it right and still he failed. It's the best line of the film and Jordan owns it. If these three guys had solo films opening on the same weekend, Jordan's ticket would be my first purchase.
If That Awkward Moment is what being a single twenty-something man is like in the 21st century, I embrace my married middle-aged life a little tighter, because at least I don't have to act like an asshole.
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