In case you were like me and thought that making an entire movie based off an unfunny internet meme was the lowest point cinema could go, rest easy: That Awkward Moment really only borrows the title from the internet meme. The rest of the film — as shallow, misogynistic, and straight horrible as it is — has very little of anything to do with that with which it shares its title. At least we can praise that while we weep about the rest of the abhorrent trash that’s been made here.
The film stars three twentysomethings who, after one of them has his wife file for divorce, vow that they will not get in a relationship. Then all three promptly do, but hide if from the others because that’s how friendship works. The lead, if you want to call him that, is Jason (Zac Efron), the man who recently lost his wife is Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), and the third one is Daniel (Miles Teller). Jason and Daniel work together designing covers for books, while Mikey is a doctor. I wager this is done to separate them. Mikey actually seems like a decent enough person, while the other two are despicable people with whom nobody in real life, I hope, would fall in love.
But, this is a movie, and to make it worse it’s a romantic comedy, although it’s neither romantic or funny. Jason has a whole speech about how he has a “roster,” a group of women with whom he has casual sex and immediately stops seeing as soon as one of them has the gall to ask “where is this relationship going?” Daniel loves the philosophy, while Mikey isn’t so sure that it’s something people should be doing. He still thinks love is important.
In an early scene, the three men go down to a bar to help Mikey “heal.” Jason meets Ellie (Imogen Poots), has sex with her, and then leaves in the morning before she’s up because he makes the assumption that she’s a prostitute. That appalls him — despite him being the one who has a “roster” and is completely okay spreading his seed everywhere — so he hopes to never see her again. The joke’s on him, though, because it turns out she’s an author and the next day the two wind up in a meeting for her book cover.
That’s about as awkward as it gets. The two wind up going out on dates and hanging out despite Jason continually treating her like dirt. She falls in love with him instantly, and he with her, but his ego won’t let him admit it. Perhaps this would be interesting to explore, but that’s not what happens. The relationship is neglectful at best and we instead wish that the filmmakers had some idea as to how to write actual characters. The closest they come is with Mikey, who spends most of the film trying to win back the heart of his wife.
Oh, right, and Daniel winds up having sex with his wingman (wingwoman?), Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). We can see before they can that they’ll wind up together. But why? They’ve been using one another to get in bed with someone else for years, they have no chemistry, and the film is so poorly written that they also have no character to them. She falls in love with him first, for no discernible reason, and gets the closest the film comes to “revenge” for women everywhere — which is then rectified almost a scene later because, well, of course she’d come crawling back to him.
The film doesn’t make you want to root for at least two of its leads. The third, Mikey, is just not smart enough to see that it’s never going to work out, although at least he is somewhat sympathetic. The other two? I don’t see how you can look at them and go, “yeah, they seem like all right guys.” You instead root against them, hoping against hope that the women in their lives will realize that they can do far better.
But then you remember That Awkward Moment is a romantic comedy. The guys come to their senses in the last few scenes — without actual prompt, mind you, because this is a poorly written rom-com — and then everything’s okay and we can go home happy. It’s like the 80 minutes of misogyny earlier on didn’t happen! Except it did, and I was disgusted that the film wanted us to accept that (1) these guys would change their ways in an instant and (2) the women should forgive them for being jerks to them for the course of several weeks because … they said sorry once and looked almost as if they kind of meant it.
It’s not even that the film is particularly funny. It has a couple of moments but it’s rarely even trying to make us laugh. Its attempts usually come down to long, drawn-out ad-libbing sessions for its actors, and none of them are very good at it. This means we sit there in silence wondering how this is even a movie. It’s not telling a good story, it doesn’t have good characters, it isn’t funny, and it’s making me sick to my stomach to think that this movie is even getting released onto cinema screens.
That Awkward Moment is a “dudebro” movie of the worst kind. It’s not funny, it has no respect for women, and it thinks that a simple apology — that comes out of nowhere that it offers only because it thinks that’s the right thing to do but doesn’t understand why it’s sorry — can make it all better. It can’t. This is a shallow, unfunny, and misogynistic sorry excuse of a movie. That awkward moment when you make what will likely be the worst movie of the year. Indeed.