Bromances are anything but a new concept in film. For decades, the likes of Bill & Ted, Point Break, and Wayne’s World provided bromantic entertainment in a variety of different genres. However, thanks to the success of I Love You Man in 2009, the bromance genre has taken on a new life, reaching new creative and financial heights. The newest in the long line of recent bromance films is this weekend’s That Awkward Moment, which unfortunately never finds its footing, resulting in a mess of clichés, poor characterization, and a waste of a talented class. Where films like Superbad and I Love You Man found success in subversion and parody of romantic comedy tropes, That Awkward Moment is too comfortable playing it safe.
In my opinion, nothing is more frustrating that a squandered cast. When a filmmaker has assembled a cast full of talented, attractive, and successful actors it’s pretty much their only job to provide them with interesting and engaging material for them to work with. Unfortunately, writer/director Tom Gormican does the exact opposite, providing a script full of every romantic comedy cliché imaginable. There are the classic misunderstandings that all hinge on the characters’ inabilities to communicate with one another, grand romantic gestures that feel forced, and one-dimensional relationships. Worst of all, Gormican doesn’t seem to know what kind of movie he’s trying to make, resulting in awkward tonal changes from scene to scene. For a few minutes it seems Gormican is aiming to make another flick in a long line of crass, guy humor films only for the next scene to be ripped out of any Katherine Heigl movie. All of this adds up to a shoddy script that gives Gormican’s talented actors nothing to do.
Miles Teller is easily the highlight, providing the majority of the laughs, but he’s never really there to do anything besides provide some comedic relief, resulting in a storyline that feels forced and shallow. On the other hand, Michael B. Jordan, emotionally, has the most to play with, but is given so little screen time that it never really clicks despite his clear effort. Unfortunately, the majority of the film is dedicated to Zack Efron’s Jason and he is the clear weak link. Efron never really seems to even be playing a character but rather an extension of his own persona. Worst of all, though, is that Effron, like Gormican, doesn’t seem to know what kind of movie he’s making. He never really finds the balance of his character, constantly jumping between charming asshole and well-meaning friend without ever finding the right mix between the two, resulting in a disjointed pastiche of thousands of other romantic comedy characters.
While the three actors clearly have chemistry with one another, the best scenes are those when the three of them are trading wisecracks, it’s far from enough to save this film. It undoubtedly has its funny moments, and it’s far from a horrible date movie, it’s just disappointing that a combination of so much talent could result in something so derivative and uninspired.
Review by James Hausman