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That Awkward Moment spryly treads familiar rom-com territory 

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We hate it, yet it happens all the time: That dreaded moment in which the person you're hooking up with starts a sentence with "So ..." and then inquires about relationship status.

"Where's this going?"

"What are we doing?"

As conventional wisdom has it, there's nothing a guy wants to talk about less than relationship status, except maybe feelings. This is why the "So ..." conversation should be avoided until it must be had — i.e. you need to know there's a future, or you'll be the one headed in the opposite direction.

The appeal of That Awkward Moment is that it understands this dynamic, and also the bromance among male friends that encourages it. Jason (Zac Efron, Charlie St. Cloud) and Daniel (Miles Teller, The Spectacular Now) are young punks in lower Manhattan who love to drink and sleep around. Each keeps a "roster" of women they're hooking up with, allowing things to stay fresh and them to never get attached. Their professional job is designing book covers, which is symbolically perfect, as they get women to judge them by their appearance and then flee before anyone can "read" the naughtiness on the inside.

Their old college buddy Mikey (Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station) is on the opposite end of the spectrum. He's a doctor, but his wife (Jessica Lucas, Evil Dead) is cheating on him. Jason and Daniel try to take him out on the town to get his mind off things, to little avail.

The men make a vow: They're going to stay single, enjoy life together and never, under any circumstances, commit to a relationship.

Famous last words.

Soon Jason is entangled with aspiring writer Ellie (Imogen Poots, Fright Night), Daniel develops feelings for his old friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis), and Mikey can't let his wife go. As any happily married person will tell you, meeting "the one" makes you eager to leave the crazed insecurity of single life behind. The trick is realizing you've met "the one" before doing something stupid and losing him or her.

Writer-director Tom Gormican, who's making his feature film debut, provides a script that allows the actors to play freely off one another, and no doubt there was some improv on the set. For the most part, this is a success: A few inspired jokes involving penises are both hilarious and crude, and the banter among the guys feels genuine. More importantly, the women more than hold their own — none are silly pushovers who allow men to manipulate them. Anytime strong female characters are on the big screen, it's a good thing.

Obviously, That Awkward Moment is not a good date movie for unestablished couples. It raises far too many questions and thoughts that should not be part of the carefree early days of relationships. It will, however, suit just fine as forgettable amusement for couples who have the "Are we or aren't we?" days well behind them.

scene@csindy.com

Film Details

That Awkward Moment
Rated R · 94 min. · 2014
Director: Tom Gormican
Writer: Tom Gormican
Cast: Zac Efron, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Michael B. Jordan, Jessica Lucas, Josh Pais, Emily Meade, Eugenia Kuzmina and Tina Benko

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