He rightly realized that the shelf life of a young Disney star was limited and turned his attention to making serious, but little seen films like “Parkland,” “At Any Price” and “The Paperboy,” an art house film better known for a scene utilizing an age old cure for a jellyfish sting you don’t normally see administered by Oscar winners like Nicole Kidman.
His latest film, “That Awkward Moment,” bridges the gap between the commercial fare that typified his early career and the edgier movies. It’s a rom com but it really is about how gross these twenty-something manboys can be.
Efron plays Jason, a New York graphic artist who designs covers for books with titles like “Diary of a Teenage CEO.” He is an avowed hook-up artist, a young guy who would rather hang out with his best friends Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) than have a meaningful relationship with a girl. That is until he meets Ellie (the excellently named Imogen Poots), a young writer with big eyes and big dreams.
“That Awkward Moment” takes advantage of Efron’s blue eyes and sculpted abs in time honoured rom com fashion. His hair is practically a character in the film. It certainly has more personality than most of the men in the movie.
This is the kind of movie that makes me glad I don’t have daughters in the dating pool. The three main characters—Jason, Miles and Mikey—are frat boys who speak Bro Code, using terms like “Double Gopher” and advising their divorced friend to create a roster of women rather than get tied down to one woman.
And yet before you can cue the Drunk Rom Com Xbox Montage ™, these young idiots have met and canoodled with women who are WAY more interesting than they deserve.
Daniel takes up with Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), an Upper West Side child of privilege (who also sings the blues in nightclubs) while Jason struggles with his feelings for Elie. Both women hand in charming, funny performances that feel like they’ve been beamed in from another, better movie, and are the reason to see the film.
“That Awkward Moment” works better when it drops the frat boy stuff and embraces its rom com roots. When it focuses on the real relationships between the guys and Ellie and Chelsea it plays like a regular rom com. Beyond that it might mainly be of interest as a cautionary tale for parents of twenty something women.