Obnoxiously Attractive People Having Obnoxious Amounts of Sex
As I watched the trailers for That Awkward Moment, I kept having a visceral “Oh screw this” reaction, even after only a few seconds. Which sparked an internal debate for me. I wondered Is there really something wrong with this movie? Or am I just not ready to see young, hot Disney Channel mannequins bro it up like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson did in movies a younger me considered classics? I was okay with hating this, but not if it meant turning into the mean old principal who hates rock n’ roll. I don’t think I’m ready for that, I don’t own enough sweater vests. Having now seen it, I’m convinced there’s something more to my horrified uncanny valley reaction than just hating teenyboppers because they’re screwing and having fun.
See, That Awkward Moment wants to have it both ways. We’re supposed to laugh at the young, dumb, full-of-cum fratty good time boys while they drink and party, yet still envy their clean coiffed Ralph Lauren catalog looks and shabby chic Crate and Barrel apartments. The whole time I was watching it I found myself thinking Man, I should get a cool overcoat like that. Man, I should get stylishly printed drapes like that. Man, I should get a beautiful tall girlfriend with a long slender neck like that.
Is this how girls feel when they watch shitty rom-coms? How do they do it? Why do they do it? I’ve now seen one dude version of a rom-com, and I already understand the appeal of Communism. Enough! Military haircuts and grey jumpsuits for everyone!
That Awkward Moment isn’t the first work ever to attempt to combine juvenile social hijinks with aspirational hip New York styling, but there’s something… off about it. And I think age does have something to do with it, but not in the GRRR, MILLENIALS! kind of way. Sarah Jessica Parker was 33 when the first season of Sex and the City aired. Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, and Zac Efron are 26, and they’re dudes. Yet their hair and clothes and apartments always look perfect, and they’re always hanging out at the coolest bars and having sex with the hottest girls without even trying. That Awkward Moment has made everyone younger and dumber and hornier, while simultaneously making them hipper and sharper and more sophisticated, like some insidious Hitler Youth infomercial for Manhattan. Sure, Patrick Bateman was 27 and well put together in American Psycho, but him being a psychotic, appearances-obsessed yuppie was the entire basis of that story. That Awkward Moment is essentially presenting us with a bunch of homicidal Patrick Batemens, while trying to pass them off as your cuddly best bud. That’s the root of the uncanny valley reaction. I don’t hate them because they’re young, I’m put off because they feel like slightly misprogrammed artificial humanoids, 33-year-old problems embodied by squeaky clean, 26-year-old Disney mannequins. ERROR ERROR, ARGUMENT INVALID, BRAIN NOT COMPUTE.
And on a more micro level, it’s a crappy rom-com so derivative that it seems to be deliberately devouring itself.