Actor Zac Efron navigates the tangled, complex web of dating and the New York singles scene in That Awkward Moment, a film that puts an uncommon spin on romantic comedy: the male perspective.
The movie, due to open in US theatres on Friday, follows the lives and loves of best friends, twentysomething men in the big city trying to remain emotionally unattached as they manoeuvre the tricky terrain of jobs and relationships.
“This is the first look, I think, of what it is like to be a guy dating at our age and what it’s like to be out there,” said Efron, 26, who is also an executive producer on the film.
“Sometimes it takes your best friends to get through it,” added the star, who shot to fame in the Disney High School Musical TV movies and more recently starred in the historical drama Parkland and the thriller The Paperboy. In That Awkward Moment, Efron plays confident, carefree Jason, who likes to hang out with his friends and does his best to avoid commitment.
Miles Teller, 26, who starred in last year’s Sundance hit The Spectacular Now and this year’s film festival favorite Whiplash, is Jason’s best buddy, the funny, affable Daniel.
And Michael B. Jordan, a 2013 National Board of Review breakthrough performance winner for his role in critically acclaimed drama Fruitvale Station, plays the more mature Mikey in his first comedic role on the big screen.
“I was looking for a change of pace. A lot of people know my work from more dramatic, serious roles,” said Jordan, 26.
When Mikey’s marriage breaks up, he turns to his two best friends for solace. They guide him back into the unfamiliar dating scene and make a pact to stay single — while all he wants is to patch things up with his estranged wife.
“We walk a careful balance between being good guys deep down and caring and… waking up the next day and feeling sort of guilty for our commitment issues,” said Efron.
“At the same time, we have to live our lives.”
Romantic comedies are a favourite type of film for writer-director Tom Gormican, who has tried to revitalise the genre with That Awkward Moment. “I also wanted to put a different spin on it and have the movie take place from a guy’s perspective because I felt that is something we haven’t seen before,” he explained.
The R-rated film tries to give women a peek into the man cave, showing how young men relate to each other. It shows their sometimes raunchy behaviour, how they mask the vulnerability and insecurity they feel about relationships and dating — and some of the terrible decisions they make along the way.
“For guys, it is my hope that they would actually see something from their own lives and relationships in it,” said Gormican.
“We’re all in our mid-20s. We’re going through the process.
We’re at the stage in our lives where we’re growing and maturing,” said Jordan. “We’re figuring it out but nobody has a blueprint of how to grow up.”