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posted: 1/30/2014 5:45 AM

Bromance is anything but that awesome 'Moment'

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  • Miles Teller, left, Michael B. Jordan and Zac Efron play three New Yorkers who pledge to give up relationships in "That Awkward Moment."

    Miles Teller, left, Michael B. Jordan and Zac Efron play three New Yorkers who pledge to give up relationships in "That Awkward Moment."

  • Video: "That Awkward Moment" trailer


First, let's start with the stunted screenplay, which could sure use a few choice adjectives besides "awesome."

"That's awesome," Jason says.

"How awesome is that?" Daniel says.

"Your dad? Awesome!" Jason says.

"I know this an awesome thing to do!" Daniel says.

"You guys were awesome!" Mikey says.

This represents only a small portion of the "awesome" dialogue created by Tom Gormican, writer and director of "That Awkward Moment," an arrested adolescent, male-bonding comedy about three New York dudes who take an oath to use women only for sex, and to stay out of "relationships."

Right after Mikey's cute wife (Jessica Lucas) dumps him, Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) agree to keep their merry band of musketeers single.

Early on, there's trouble in paradise when Jason falls for a Chicago writer named Ellie (Imogen Poots), Daniel dallies with a bluesy singer named Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), and Mikey focuses on a mystery girl with eyewear.

Will they make it or break it?

"That Awkward Moment" isn't a particularly bad movie, just an ineptly made one by Gormican, who takes a kitchen sink approach to this wrongs-of-passage comedy. It occasionally spits out words of wisdom ("Being there when someone needs you," Ellie says, "that's all relationships are"), but becomes too enamored with gross, bathroom humor bits that would have been rejected by the makers of "The Hangover 3."

Gormican flogs to death Daniel's obsession with using Jason's bathroom, and Mikey accidentally using artificial tanning cream as body lotion. (Seriously, are movies still using Viagra jokes?)

Excessive best-bud banter gives the movie an improv feel, not in a good way, and the film transitions from light comedy to dead-earnest drama with the subtlety of a malfunctioning gearshift clutch.

Nonetheless, "That Awkward Moment" builds its characters and plot around hard truths about young guys struggling to fend off maturity against the overpowering forces of time and experience.

Gormican makes good use of New York locations, and the fact Jason, Daniel and Mikey are such ardent New Yorkers (Mikey's a doctor, his pals work together designing best-seller covers) gives this relationship movie a male "Sex in the City" vibe -- if Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda were locked in a perpetual adolescent mind set.

Efron and "Fruitvale Station" star Jordan could easily carry this unchallenging movie with their puppy-dog pupils and inner sense of emotional turmoil.

But Teller (stellar in the underrated "The Spectacular Now") is the real deal with a Robert Mitchum-esque durability and the ability to communicate tides of emotion roiling under a placid surface.

As Ellie, Poots projects an emotional rawness that leaps from the silver screen. Her co-star Davis pumps Chelsea full of more fresh personality than her rote role requires.

What is "That Awkward Moment"? According to Jason's superfluous voice-over narration, it's when a woman begins a sentence with "So ..." followed by "Where are we?" or "What are we doing?"

It's the moment of truth, the place where the buck stops and the road divides.

In short, not an "awesome" moment for guys.

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