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Sunday, March 18 News

Susan Granger's review of 'That Awkward Moment'

The premise is simple: three 20-something buddies find themselves at that confusing time in every relationship when their casual sex partner suddenly asks, "So ... where is this going?" Jason (Zac Efron), Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) are enjoying the good life in Manhattan. Jason and Mikey are both single, designing book covers at the same trendy downtown publishing company, while Mikey is an emergency room doctor. But after Mikey wakes up one morning to discover that his wife, Vera (Jessica Lucas), has cheated on him -- with her lawyer -- and is serving him with divorce papers, he and his callow, commiserating friends make a pact that they will not "date" women. Instead, they plan to mate and vacate, guilt-free, and they vow to avoid serious entanglements for a year.

But then Jason glibly connects with smart `n' sexy Ellie (Imogen Potts), rescuing her from an insistent suitor at a bar, and Daniel turns to their longtime "wing-woman" platonic friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). Predictably, both of these supposed one-night stands develop into something more emotionally substantial, while Mikey covertly tries to reconcile with his ex.

Debuting writer/director Tom Gormican, whose previous credit is as producer on the dreadful "Movie 43," sets up a crude, immature male version of the dating experience, often substituting frenetic pace for intelligent insight on the sensitive issue of commitment. So it's not surprising that the female characters are sketchily underwritten and ill-served, while an inordinate amount of screen time is devoted to male genitalia: Viagra-induced, extended erections, a discolored penis and urinating horizontally. In addition, the dialogue only can be described as dopey, and the contrived Thanksgiving Day scene falls flat with a resounding thud.

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What's in Gormican's favor is his casting: three hot young actors. Efron has been a heartthrob since "High School Musical," Teller scored with "The Spectacular Now" and Jordan with "Fruitvale Station."

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "That Awkward Moment" is a bawdy 4, concluding with a familiar sequence of bloopers.