Efron is brilliantly ‘Awkward’

That awkward moment when Zac Efron — yeah, that pretty-boy teen heartthrob from “High School Musical” is actually really funny. And I’m not talking about Disney Channel funny, I’m talking real world, R-rated funny. It’s a strange sensation, but Efron is all grown up and had the whole theater busting up in his latest film, “That Awkward Moment.”

The story follows three 20-something year-old college friends a couple years removed from graduation. All three live in New York City, working hard during the week and playing hard on the weekends. The two single guys of the group, Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller), chase girls at local bars and pride themselves on their “rosters” of women with whom they are involved. The third, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), is the married member of the group and offers wingman support. Everything seems to be going well until Mikey’s marriage falls apart, and the three friends all vow to stay single together. However, as Mikey’s divorce process begins, Jason and Daniel begin to fall in love with women they’ve met, forcing them to make the age-old decision: bros or hoes?

As cliché as this plot sounds, it is executed well and interspersed with a brand of humor borrowed from the “raunchy bromance” genre popularized by Judd Apatow. One scene in particular, during which Efron and Teller are trying to urinate but are having difficulties as a result of being on Viagra, was especially Apatow-esque. Though Efron did get laughs, he was more charming than funny, and Teller delivered the best comedic moments in the film. Jordan had his funny moments as well, but his performance most notably added a sense of emotional depth to the film. The scenes in which he futilely tried to fix his marriage were skillfully performed and made a case for Jordan as the best dramatic actor in the film.

The two female leads also contributed notably to the humor of the film. Imogen Poots plays opposite of Efron as the quirky hipster chick Ellie, whose cynical outlook on life and love is refreshing. Mackenzie David plays Chelsea, the “just one of the guys” character, who eventually becomes romantically involved with Teller’s character. The comedic chemistry between Teller and David was consistently solid, and the scenes focusing on their relationship were the most fun to watch.

As expected, the plot follows the well-traveled path of the guy falling for the girl, then messing everything up before finally redeeming himself with a grand romantic gesture, fully displaying his previously buried emotions and proving that he is no longer afraid to love. What makes “That Awkward Moment” better than the typical romantic comedy is the aura of authenticity that surrounds the characters. The script is witty and the dialogue is very natural, giving the audience the sense that the actors onscreen are simply portraying the “regular guy” versions of themselves.

There were plenty of scenes that reminded me of hanging out with my friends. Whether the characters were pounding shots of tequila at the bar or sitting in their apartment playing “Halo,” they behaved like real people, which is a refreshing change of pace for the genre.

“That Awkward Moment” is a great movie to see with friends or on a date, and while it won’t be taking home any awards, it’s a fun film to watch, especially as a rental once it’s released on DVD and Blu-ray.


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