94 minutes of "Awkward"

After watching the promotion for “That Awkward Moment,” starring Zac Efron and up-and-coming stars Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, I felt compelled to see what exactly was so awkward about the story of three 20-somethings living in New York City. As it turns out, the awkwardness isn’t found in the storyline, but rather in how it is told. Awkward timing, awkward performances and awkward scene changes are the only aspects of the film that give the title its meaning.

Efron plays Jason, an attractive book cover designer with a different girl for every night of the week. He and his best friends, Mikey (Jordan) and Daniel (Teller), are all having problems with relationships — or the lack thereof.

Mikey has just gotten a divorce from his cheating wife. In order to convince him to get back into the dating scene, Jason and Daniel make a pact that as long as Mikey stays single, they will too.

This effort doesn’t last long, however, as Jason meets Ellie, a quirky blonde with a not-at-all cliché love for books and a tendency to get her way. Of course, the two fall for each other, and Jason ponders whether or not he should abandon his player attitude and commit to just one girl.

“That Awkward Moment” follows the same plot line as numerous rom-coms, but even still it falters in comparison to most. One-liners and gags that are supposed to be funny are poorly timed and barely merited a giggle from the audience, and the plot clearly lacked direction or focus. Once the movie ended, I was left wondering why things happened the way they did — and more importantly — why I sat through the whole thing.

Most disappointing is the seemingly lost potential of Teller and Jordan, who have shown an impressive talent in their earlier films.

Teller made his premiere in 2011’s “Footloose” and shone as an alcoholic high school student in last summer’s “The Spectacular Now.”

Jordan received massive critical praise for his performance in “Fruitvale Station,” also released last summer. Even Efron has given much better performances than this — he is at his best in “Hairspray” and similar films where he doesn’t have to prove he can handle mature content.

Ultimately, the film was a flop. Despite intense promotional efforts, the sheer nothingness of the film will drive audiences away. Unlike so-bad-they’re-good movies, “That Awkward Moment” isn’t even a guilty pleasure. Steer clear of the film and save yourself an awkward 94 minutes.

Published February 4, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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