Zac Efron is All Grown Up: 'That Awkward Moment' Review

Ladies, Zac Efron wants us all to know that he is not Troy Bolton anymore. Walking into the theater, I was feeling a bit nostalgic for the High School Musical days and had low expectations for That Awkward Moment, knowing very little about it other than the fact that Zac was its star and that we would probably be seeing him shirtless a lot (not complaining!) Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by Efron’s performance and the movie as a whole.

Written and directed by Tom Gormican, That Awkward Moment centers around Jason, Daniel and Mikey: three best friends who are navigating the complicated dating scene of New York City. The comedy often feels like a mash-up between Sex and the City and HBO’s Girls, but clearly targeted for a twenty-something male audience. These young, attractive men make a pact to stay away from committed relationships, hoping to prevent that uncomfortable “Where is this going?” conversation from ever happening. The buddies vow to build up their “rosters” of women, which basically entails sleeping around and trying to remain emotionally detached — not quite original territory plot-wise.

 

Sure, this plan always seems like it will be all fun and games until — shocker! — they end up meeting women who are worth the commitment that they promised to avoid like the plague. Daniel, played by the hilarious Miles Teller, realizes there is something more to his gal pal Chelsea besides her knack for helping him pick up women at the local bar. For Jason (Efron), a one-night stand with a charming blonde named Ellie develops into something much deeper than he ever bargained for. Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), is dealing with a divorce and the shock of discovering his wife cheated on him, making the process of moving on and building up his “roster” more complicated than it seems on the surface.

As each friend tries to pretend that they aren’t actually in a relationship, plenty of, well, awkward moments occur. My personal favorite is when Jason shows up to Ellie’s fancy birthday party dressed in an inappropriate costume in front of her parents — I’ll leave the outfit a surprise!

The movie clearly seeks to break from the conventions of the romantic comedy genre and generate a fresh plot by directing its humor toward the male audience and presenting us with the male perspective. However, given that movies like Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached have dealt with the inevitability of physical relationships evolving into something more, That Awkward Moment is not quite different enough from other romantic comedies.

Though not entirely consistent, the movie is laced with smart humor and quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. Admittedly, I wouldn’t have minded if Zac had decided to break into song at any point during the movie, or spontaneously busted out a choreographed basketball number with his buddies — but seeing him evolve into a more mature actor capable of handling comedy was a refreshing departure from his other recent (and mostly forgettable) roles. And keep an eye out for newcomer Miles Teller, who is one to watch as he steals much of the comedic spotlight. (Teller can be seen in this past summer’s The Spectacular Now and Divergent coming this March, both alongside Shailene Woodley.)

All of the diehard Efron fans have likely already rushed to see That Awkward Moment, but for those still on the fence, I would recommend catching one of the cheaper matinee showings downtown with your roommates for a fun study break! Don’t expect a masterpiece, but you will be entertained.  

Watch the That Awkward Moment trailer here!