Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Things To Do

Review: 'That Awkward Moment' is just that

By Steve Persall

Times Movie Critic

Promising young careers take a bumpy detour in That Awkward Moment, which is the kind of movie that can push an actor back from the cusp of stardom.

Not for long, though. The three young stars biding time in Tom Gormican's listless rom-com are too gifted for one mediocre movie to bury.

Former Citrus County resident Miles Teller's performances in The Spectacular Now and the recent Sundance winner Whiplash place him among Hollywood's brightest new stars. Michael B. Jordan joined that list around the same time, playing the doomed hero of Fruitvale Station. Zac Efron was bred as a Disney let's-put-on-a-show pony but check out At Any Price or even a dog like The Paperboy for a talent striving to mature.

None of them needs That Awkward Moment at this time in their lives.

Gormican, whose only previous screen credit is co-producing last year's abysmal Movie 43, claims in interviews that his movie is inspired by William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost, in which case the Bard should sue for defamation of his characters. Like the play, That Awkward Moment has three words in its title, and a story of three bachelors taking a vow to remain single and not sticking to it. We can all agree that Shakespeare didn't have booty calls, horizontal position urination and enormous sex toys in mind.

Efron is the lead dog Jason, a book cover designer — you can judge by them, he insists — and serial seducer until meeting Ellie (Imogen Poots), whom he "hilariously" confuses for a prostitute. Teller makes good use of his innate bro-ness as Daniel, whose pick-up strategy involves using a wing-woman named Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) with friendship benefits making him reconsider his buddy vow. Jordan's Mikey inspired the pledge when his wife, Vera (Jessica Lucas), walked out but he's holding on for reconciliation.

The best jokes in That Awkward Moment are obviously improvised, an impression reinforced by the end credits outtakes reel, a tell-tale sign of comedy desperation since Cannonball Run. Teller is the cast member with the best chops for spontaneously contributing; everyone else often appears embarrassed by what they're doing and saying. Not that the material is daring, or even funny in a shocking way. Characters simply do whatever it takes for the movie to proceed.

In the end, the disappointment of That Awkward Moment is just a speed bump to success. Teller has four movies being released in 2014 including Whiplash and the fantasy franchise starter Divergent. Jordan is gearing up to play Johnny Storm in a Fantastic Four reboot (with Teller rumored to join him). Efron has the frat house comedy Neighbors with Seth Rogen ready for theaters. There's too much on the horizon for them — or us — to dwell on one awkward movie.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

Comments

Sports on TV/radio for Wednesday, June 20

TODAYBaseballDodgers at Cubs2 p.m.MLBMarlins at Giants3:30 p.m.FSFMariners at Yankees7 p.m.MLBRays at Astros8 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMCollege baseball, World SeriesOregon State vs. North Carolina7 p.m.ESPNGolfPGA Professionals Championship6:30 p.m.GolfHor...
Updated: 4 hours ago
‘Big’ returning the theaters in July

‘Big’ returning the theaters in July

We've been talking a lot about the 1988 movie Big lately here at Stuck in the '80s. First, we told you five things you didn't know about the Tom Hanks classic. Then we recorded a whole podcast about the movie.Now, we've learned, Big is returning to t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Clearwater Jazz Holiday lineup: Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Sheila E. and more

Clearwater Jazz Holiday lineup: Doobie Brothers, George Thorogood, Sheila E. and more

Get ready to break out your finest purple during this year's Clearwater Jazz Holiday.A night celebrating Prince, led by proteges Sheila E. and Morris Day and the Time, will be among the highlights of this year's 39th annual Jazz Holiday, Oct. 18-21 i...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Candidates rush to fill void left by Murman’s withdrawal from District 7

Candidates rush to fill void left by Murman’s withdrawal from District 7

TAMPA – The chance to run for an open seat on the Hillsborough County Commission doesn't come along often.That might explain why there are now 10 wannabe commissioners vying for the countywide District 7 seat.Democrat Mark Nash became the ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
SoundBytes: Alice in Chains, David Sedaris, Israel Houghton and more

SoundBytes: Alice in Chains, David Sedaris, Israel Houghton and more

— Alice in Chains are heading back out on the road, and they're coming to Orlando. They'll play the House of Blues on Oct. 27. Tickets are $49.50 and up. Click here.— Gospel great Israel Houghton is coming to the Straz Center on Oct. 12. ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
RuPaul’s Drag Race star Coco Montrese on St. Pete Pride, the Pulse shooting and compassion from police

RuPaul’s Drag Race star Coco Montrese on St. Pete Pride, the Pulse shooting and compassion from police

Get ready for St. Pete Pride featuring a performance by Coco Montrese.
Published: 06/19/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Wednesday

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Wednesday

Editors' picks for June 20.
Published: 06/19/18
George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, more bringing Comedy Get Down tour to Tampa

George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, more bringing Comedy Get Down tour to Tampa

They're back.
Published: 06/19/18
Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Your guide to St. Pete Pride: What's changed for 2018

Everything you need to know about St. Pete Pride 2018.
Published: 06/19/18
SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

SoundBytes: Mat Kearney, Gladys Knight, Big Boi, Ski Mask the Slump God and more

Some upcoming Tampa Bay concerts to have on the calendar.
Published: 06/19/18