TORONTO — The new “bro rom com” That Awkward Moment, now in theatres, stars Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan as buddies navigating friendship and relationships.
It’s the first feature film written and directed by Tom Gormican.
Is his big screen debut worth the price of a ticket? Here’s a look at what some critics are saying.
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times was not impressed.
“Awkward? More like painful,” he wrote. “No doubt we’ll experience worse movies than this in 2014. But the bar has been lowered.”
Roeper singled out two running jokes in the movie — one involving a character who always defecates in his friend’s bathroom and one involving a man who always announces his arrival as if he’s on the phone.”
“These gags are not funny the first time. Repetition doesn’t help,” wrote Roeper, who was also critical of the script.
“No matter which character is speaking, we can almost see the dialogue balloons above their heads, as they recite lines that rarely sound spontaneous or authentic. Almost nothing in this film feels genuine.”
Roeper summed up That Awkward Moment as “a not particularly offensive but utterly unmemorable film.”
At The Telegraph, Robbie Collin wondered: “Who is the target audience for That Awkward Moment … and how can we get them the help they need?”
Collin complained the film relies on overlapping dialogue instead of actual jokes.
“A few years ago, Gormican’s screenplay appeared on a list of Hollywood’s best unmade scripts,” he pointed out. “Which was undoubtedly the best place for it.”
Bruce Kirkland, reviewer for the QMI Agency, concluded That Awkward Moment “is one awkward movie.”
Kirkland opined that the movie’s biggest problem is that Efron’s character is “a sicko sociopath.”
He added: “By supporting him and his mental illness, writer-director Tom Gormican has inadvertently created a sociopathic movie. That Awkward Moment is supposed to be a romantic comedy, but having a seriously flawed character at the black heart of the matter drains the film of its romance and turns the comedy into self-loathing.”
New York Daily News critic Joe Neumaier was also not impressed by Efron, calling him “a gelled hairdo pretending to act.”
He wrote: “He’s tried to be more than that (Me & Orson Welles, Parkland), but this facile movie only needs him to be a walking Diesel ad.”
Perhaps Efron’s appeal is lost on male reviewers.
Claudia Puig of USA Today called Efron and his two male co-stars “likeable” and “talented” with “appealing chemistry.”
“It’s a Valentine’s Day date movie that guys won’t mind seeing, and women will find amusing enough and easy on the eyes,” she wrote.
But, Puig said, the movie lacks cleverness.
“The balance between ribald comedy and sweet romance is not perfectly calibrated — the film leans too heavily on bathroom humor — but the guys seem to be having fun together.”
Mike Scott of The Times-Picayune liked the actors, too, and agreed the story is weak.
“The plot forces things a bit, and the direction is uncertain. Just when it seems willing to take some risks, it retreats,” he wrote, calling the movie “a little smarmily arrogant, and not quite believable.”
Scott also lamented the lack of actual sex.
“The three men talk about it, a lot (although not quite as much as they talk about masturbation, or bowel movements). But nobody seems to spend much time actually doing it, and when they do, it’s under carefully draped sheets, and without much humour.”
Variety‘s Scott Foundas pointed out the lack of sex doesn’t mean there’s a lack of talk about penises.
At one point in the movie, he wrote, two of the guys “jacked up on Viagra school each other in the acrobatic art of urinating ‘horizontally.’
“Brokeback Mountain it’s not, though that is one of the better gags.”
Foundas was critical of Gormican, though.
BELOW: Watch the trailer for That Awkward Moment. (To see the restricted trailer, click here.)