Audiences React to "That Awkward Moment"

Photo Credit: Focus Features
February 13th, 2014

"That Awkward Moment" stars Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller as three friends navigating the minefields of dating and relationships while in their 20s. When Jordan's character of Mikey goes through a divorce, his two friends vow to stay single themselves in a show of solidarity with him. Those plans get complicated when both Efron's "Jason" and Teller's "Daniel" meet possible love interests, sending their plans for wild dating and partying into complete disarray. The film opened in the United States on Jan. 31, 2014 and came in third at the box office with a gross of $8.7 million. While audience reception has generally been mixed, crowds have responded favorably to the likable leads and the chemistry between them.

"That Awkward Moment" is a sex-themed romantic comedy, putting it firmly in the ranks of previous films like "American Pie" and "Swingers" as far as its target audience. Zac Efron is a charismatic lead, and the film is largely built around his star appeal. Audiences have reacted positively to Efron's screen presence in the past, and this film benefits from it as well. Even viewers who gave the film negative feedback generally praised Efron for both his performance and his chemistry with his fellow actors.

The other two leads have gotten good reviews as well. Jordan has to carry some dramatic moments stemming from his character's divorce, and he performs them admirably. Teller provides a lot of the humor in the movie, according to multiple audience reviews on film-related websites. He was even compared to comedic heavyweights Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill.

A romantic comedy is only as good as its relationships, and "That Awkward Moment" benefits by having multiple romances for audiences to invest themselves. Jason starts dating Ellie, played by Imogen Poots. Daniel starts falling for his friend Chelsea, portrayed by Mackenzie Davis. Both relationships progress in ways that audiences appreciate. The film has its fair share of misunderstandings and wacky hijinks, but it also has very real emotion and deals with complex issues both in the romantic relationships and the friendships between the three leads.

The film's crass humor and explicit dialogue appeals to audience members who prefer their comedies to cater to an older audience. R-rated romantic comedies are a rarity, and there is a definite audience that prefers them. This film is specifically tailored to that niche. From sex toys to performance-enhancing drugs to potty humor, this film aims its humor at audiences who like immature jokes about mature subjects. It is billed as being a "chick flick" coming from a male point of view, and fans of the genre have responded well to that angle, giving the film a solid "B" CinemaScore.

It does not hurt that the film has a very attractive cast that appeals to both male and female audiences. Obviously, women appreciate Efron and Jordan, but men have their own "eye-candy" in the form of Poots and Davis. The film opened Super Bowl weekend with the strategy of attracting female audiences not interested in football. Teenage audiences also react well to casts with sex-appeal, and this film is no different, even with its "R" rating.

While audience opinion has varied regarding the overall story and writing of the film, the leads, relationships and sense of humor have given it enough momentum for young couples seeking a fun date movie to try it out in the theater. This is likely to continue in upcoming weeks, since February typically sees lower overall releases and box office grosses compared to movies released later in the year.

"That Awkward Moment" is likely to turn a profit in its theatrical run thanks to a low production budget, and it is the type of film that often performs well on DVD and VOD. The film also serves as a launching pad for its three leads. Efron has clearly been targeting projects that help him shed his "High School Musical" image, and he is credited as an Executive Producer as well. Teller has been getting more attention from "21 and Over," "The Spectacular Now" and "Footloose." This is another film that, in hindsight, could help launch his career in leading roles. Michael B. Jordan earned wide acclaim in the drama "Fruitvale Station," and "That Awkward Moment" proves he has comedic chops as well. "That Awkward Moment" is an important movie for fans of all three men, as it is likely a film that helps all three of them evolve into the next stages of their respective careers.