Blu-ray Review Comedy

Bros Before a Blu-ray Review: That Awkward Moment

May 14, 2014Ben MK

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So... where is this movie going?

By Ben Mk

Judging by his recent string of films, Zac Efron's star as a bromantic-comedy leading man is on the rise. And why not? With his good looks and laid-back charisma, he's one of the few young actors who can walk that line between unlikable and charming, and do so convincingly. And in writer/director Tom Gormican's That Awkward Moment, Efron puts those talents to good use, playing a confirmed bachelor who values the friendship of his bros more than any long-term romantic commitment — that is, until the right girl comes along.

Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) are two twenty-something friends just trying to navigate the relationship minefield that is New York City's dating scene. And by navigate, they mean avoid altogether. The word "relationship" isn't even in their vocabulary; for them, it's all about casual encounters (or keeping a roster, as they call it). The moment things start to get serious — that awkward "So... where is this going?" moment — it's quarter past time-to-get-the-hell-out.

Their friend, Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), doesn't quite share that perspective. He's a happily married, one-woman kind of guy — till the day he's blindsided by the news that his wife, Vera (Jessica Lucas), has been cheating on him and wants a divorce. As a show of their unwavering support for Mikey — and as the ultimate demonstration of their bromance — Jason and Daniel vow that they'll all stay single together. But upholding their end of the agreement proves more challenging than anticipated when things begin to heat up for them with Ellie (Imogen Poots) and Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). Suddenly, none of them knows which way is up, as they each try to adjust to the new normal — of either being in a real relationship or, as in Mikey's case, not.

The film doesn't stray from the archetypal romantic comedy roles and relationships: Jason is the typical male romantic lead — handsome but emotionally stilted — with a fear of commitment; Daniel and Chelsea are the friends who end up becoming much more; and the heartbroken Mikey is the one struggling to pick up the pieces of his failed relationship and understand where things went astray. Once Gormican establishes these characters and their situations, he shifts the film to auto-pilot — to follow the standard rom-com flight plan — leaving it up to the actors to win audiences over with their charm. Luckily, the photogenic cast does a good job of doing just that, with an exuberant and appealing on-screen chemistry that livens up the blandness of the overall endeavor. But ultimately, how much or how little viewers enjoy watching their stories unfold on-screen depends on how much of an exercise in genre tropes they're willing to sit through.

From the panoramic New York cityscapes to the intimacy of a one-on-one coffee shop conversation, the HD presentation of That Awkward Moment on Blu-ray is anything but awkward, consistently holding true to cinematographer Brandon Trost's intended look for the film. The most striking qualities of VVS' Blu-ray transfer are its saturated colors and punchy contrast, which highlight the film's vibrant visual aesthetic. Scenes set in the bright wintertime daylight are appropriately crisp and cool, while indoor and nighttime scenes are characterized by warmer hues; fleshtones are always accurate according to the lighting conditions; and colors — like the blue and orange decor of Jason's apartment and the red mood lighting of the neighborhood bar — pop with vividness. While the photography often renders background elements out-of-focus, there's a clarity to the image that carries all the way through the film, visible in details such as the individual hairs of Ellie's (faux?) fur coats and the sharp line art of Jason's drawings and book covers. On the audio side, the disc's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack handles the film's mix of dialog and music with ease, nicely balancing conversations with 80's-inspired electro-pop songs, while incorporating the ambience of locations like a crowded bar or a bustling New York City street.

VVS' Blu-ray release includes a DVD copy of the film plus nearly half-an-hour of HD extras. It all kicks off with the 10-minute featurette Moment of Truth: Behind the Scenes, which provides some perspective on the characters and the story, courtesy of Gormican and the principle cast, who skim the surface of such topics as making a "romanctic-comedy-drama from a guy's point-of-view" and the similarities between the actors and their roles. A 4-minute Extended Gag Reel is up next, featuring cast hijinks and flubs set to music. This is followed by the 9-minute Threesome: More Awkward Moments, a casual sit-down with Jordan, Efron and Teller, where they answer questions related to the film in irreverant (and ironically, sometimes awkward) ways. Finally, the handful of extras are rounded off with the 4-minute Meet Daniel, Ellie, Jason, Mikey, which collects four character-oriented promo spots created in support of the film's theatrical release.

That Awkward Moment has four things going for it: Zac Efron, Imogen Poots, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan. The actors are easily the best thing about the film, bringing a sense of fun and freshness to what otherwise boils down to a hodgepodge of rom-com clichés. But combined with the excellent A/V presentation and assortment of lighthearted extras on VVS' Blu-ray release, that's enough reason to at least consider adding That Awkward Moment on Blu-ray to your movie roster.

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  ★★½
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  ★★★★
Special Features  —  ★★½

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on January 31st, 2014.

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