“So” is how “That Awkward Moment” begins every “awkward moment.” As in “So, what are we doing here?” Or “So, where do you see this relationship going?”
That’s the dating man’s lesson of “That Awkward Moment” — that “For girls, nothing good ever comes after ‘So.’ ” It’s a chatty romantic comedy in the modern mode — rude, nude and crude — with some funny, writerly riffs on relationships and how to avoid them.
There are laughs, but the movie — like star Zac Efron and writer-director Tom Gormican — never lets us forget that it’s trying too hard, straining to spit out sexy, silly patter, reaching for that raunchy costume failure at a dinner party, grasping for gross takes on trips to the toilet.
Efron, Miles Teller (“The Spectacular Now”) and Michael B. Jordan (“Fruitvale Station”) play three New York pals who vow, when the doctor of the trio (played by Jordan) is dumped by his wife, to stay single and enjoy the mingling. Together, they will build “a roster” of booty calls. And the moment a woman starts “the talk” with “So,” they’ll bail. That’s the plan.
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Which all of them ignore.
Jason (Efron), a smart-aleck designer of book covers, falls for a cute one-night-stand (Imogen Poots), who works for a publishing house. The hilarious chatterbox Daniel (Teller) starts to realize that his gorgeous, able-bodied lady wingman (Mackenzie Davis) is all the woman he’d ever need. And Mikey (Jordan) clings to the hope that his cheating lawyer wife (Jessica Lucas) will hear his reasoned, “We checked off all the boxes” appeal to maintain their partnership masquerading as a marriage.
The quirkiest “awkward moments” in the picture come from Josh Pais, as the pathologically shy and clumsy boss who reintroduces himself to his creative team (Jason and Daniel) every time he meets them: “Hi, it’s Fred.” Squirm-inducing and funny. The rest of “That Awkward Moment” isn’t awkward at all. It’s overfamiliar, a movie that plays like recycled, R-rated outtakes from “Rules of Engagement” or “How I Met Your Mother.”