Booze bros and boners

That Awkward Moment is particularly well awkward to watch if you’re a self-respecting adult

There’s nothing more deliciously awkward than watching a sex comedy for shallow 20-somethings in a dark theatre with a few older men. It made watching That Awkward Moment one of the saddest most haunting movie-watching experiences I’ve ever had. I thought a preview screening for Little Man was hitting rock bottom but I was wrong. And that movie had an adult midget pretending to be a baby loudly shitting in diapers to recover stolen treasure.

Jason (Zac Efron and his gravity-defying shelf hair) and Daniel (Miles Teller) are book designers living the late-20s bro life in New York City. It’s the kind of job that offers a paradoxical challenge to the audience. Clearly someone (and there’s probably only one) in the world has to design book covers and that person may or may not live in New York. (They probably do.) But it also sounds like a totally fake job manufactured for the movies. They may as well be unicorn herders. Five minutes in and the movie is already beyond smarmy and insufferable.

When not designing amazing book covers (their first winning design is a chick lit cover featuring a woman looking enviously at a pair of shoes because that’s all women care about) Jason and Daniel spend their time like any successful NY duo: playing Xbox and hitting the clubs. They have stunning success at seducing and sleeping with loads of gorgeous women. (As one character says “New York makes you believe that all your dreams can come true.” Not “New York is only for established people and will probably crush your dreams.”)

The bros are joined by their sad-sack pal Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) a doctor torn up about the recent split with his foxy wife Vera (Jessica Lucas). What a pussy! Clearly he needs help. So the three boys decide to make a pact: remain single and get tons of tail.

Sounds pretty simple. Sadly it doesn’t take long before the plan falls apart. Mikey starts trying to win Vera back with lavish Thanksgiving turkey dinners and secret trysts at the hospital. (They’re so bad!) Daniel hooks up with his best pal Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) and Jason falls for Ellie (Imogen Poots — that’s the plural of fart by the way) a sad-eyed scenester with vaguely literary ambitions that are never made clear. (She wants to host author readings or something. Like New York has a dearth of those.) Ninety misogynistic minutes later everyone lives happily ever after.

That Awkward Moment is like a Mousketeer special featuring loads of painfully unfunny dick jokes a Freudian obsession with shitting and the occasional “fuck” tossed in for verisimilitude. At one point the trio takes Viagra (giving them a few hours to drink and pick up some unsuspecting prey) and encounters the problem of taking a leak with an enormous erection. Solution? Lie across the toilet with your dick pointing down towards the water. (“Did your dick touch the water bro?”) If some high school football player adapted Woody Allen this is what he’d come up with. (Actually that would potentially be awesome. But no this is Zac Efron’s ugly baby.)

The cast is uniformly whatever but Efron deserves special scorn for this monstrosity. He comes off like a serial killer mustering everything he can to overcome his flat affect and failing utterly. It’s all the more creepy when stuffed into a movie about banging loads of girls before you settle on one gullible sperm bank that’ll bear your children.

And that’s what’s most risible about this movie: all of the women here are stupid and easily used. The men are all shallow selfish and successful; the women are weepy clingy and don’t seem to have any ambition. That Awkward Moment is the offspring of Fifty Shades of Grey and its ilk a conservative romantic narrative overlaid with middle-class sex. It’s a smarmy big city bro’s wet dream. My advice: avoid those men and this movie at all costs.

THAT AWKWARD MOMENT directed by Tom Gormican starring Zac Efron Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller opens on Friday January 31.