Bros before Brains
[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00IJVM4GA][/pullquote] With the popularity of bromance comedies on the rise, it’s nice to see That Awkward Moment straying away from the tried-and-tested cast members from Judd Apatow’s stable of comic actors. By casting the excellent Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller (who will reunite in the upcoming rebooted Fantastic Four film) alongside heartthrob-in-waiting Zac Efron, director Tom Gormican finds a trio with an easy chemistry who are, at least in the beginning, fun to spend time with.
It starts with straight man Jordan’s character Mikey discovering that his wife is cheating on him and wants a divorce. Springing into action like good ˜bros’ are womanizing alpha male Jason (Efron) and funny man Daniel (Teller). Agreeing to stay single to continue their free and easy bachelor lifestyles together, the trio head out into Manhattan’s trendy night life to drink, flirt and ˜hook up.’ Despite protestations of being single and happy, the three men find themselves each on a burgeoning romance that appears to have serious implications for their futures.
As you would expect from the clichÃ©s of romantic comedies, these are commitment-phobes who suddenly meet the right woman and all their relationship problems disappear, after the obligatory mistake and reconciliation of course. Like a comfortable pair of socks, you know exactly what you’re going to get with That Awkward Moment and at no point does it dare to try anything different.
So with the cast and setup, why isn’t this a better film? Well I’d imagine it has something to do with inherent flaws with the central characters. Initially quick-witted, charming and entertaining, the truth behind their problems becomes apparent and while Mikey and Daniel stay on the right side of the line, Jason is revealed to be entirely unbearable. He is always spouting pseudo-philosophy like it’s everyday speech and his smirking line We are the selfish generation tells you everything you need to know about him. In any other romcom he would be the jerk boyfriend that the girl discovers is actually cold-hearted and selfish before getting together with Prince Charming.
Only here we are to believe that his surface charm is enough to make him the hero of the piece. He can treat women as discardable objects, seducing and rejecting them at the point where they ask him if it’s going anywhere (hence the title of the film). Even when he is overwhelmed by how cool, interesting and smart new girl Ellie (Imogen Poots) is, he still consistently treats her badly, steals with her and then leaves her at her moment of need.
Yet despite all this, when he realizes his mistake (although there is no evidence to suggest that he does realise this or that he won’t be back to his old ways within weeks of the ending) the audience is encouraged to cheer. I think this plays into the equally clichÃ©d idea that women prefer men that treat them badly because the ˜dream’ is to tame the bad boy. This wouldn’t be so depressing if there was equal focus on Daniel and Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) relationship, but the film apparently only has room for one couple and Efron gets the nod.
Aside from this inherent logic flaw, the main cast are all good in their own ways, with Teller stealing the show. Considering this film would likely appeal to women, the female characters are hideously underwritten, which is a real shame because Poots and Davis are great with limited material and it would have been nice to see what they came up with if their had something to sink their teeth in to.