Monday Movies: That Awkward Moment and Labor Day

Film reviewer suggests Awkward screenwriter spanking gives comedians a heads up for fodder in Labor Day's misguided sexy-pastry fail

That awkward movie

Although neither gender comes off well in That Awkward Moment, it’s definitely the men who have more apologizing to do. Better make that boy-men, as this is yet another bromance comedy – think Friends, but with more dick jokes – that features commitment-phobic 20-something guys wallowing in the shallows of hook-up culture.

Awkward is the fairy tale of three best buds who live in New York, but seemingly many miles from reality. First there’s Jason (Zac Efron), a smooth operator who has just met the rather perfect Ellie (Imogen Poots) but can’t exactly figure out how she can be made to fit into his score-then-move-on lifestyle. Then we have Daniel (Miles Teller), a sarcastic slacker who has somehow persuaded a sexy gal pal named Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) to act as his “wing man” and help him pick up pliable ladies in bars. When these two suddenly start crushing on each other, predictable complications ensue. Finally we have Mikey (Michael B. Jordan), a lonely doctor who got married young and whose gorgeous wife doesn’t seem to love him anymore. All that’s left is for the director to add alcohol, stir in lots of crass jokes of the sitcom variety, and then have our immature protagonists embarrass themselves repeatedly before achieving a few feel-good insights by movie’s end.

Awkward and derivative, this romcom by first-time writer-director Tom Gormican aspires ineffectually to being a latter-day Jerry Maguire. The performances are fine, sure, but in between the forced laughs you will keep asking yourself why these smart women are so ready to settle for such dismal dudes. And Gormican deserves to be spanked for exhuming the cliché of the disgraced ex-lover who wins back his girlfriend by making an elaborate apology to her in front of a large audience. With any luck, this will just be a bad memory by Valentine’s.

Rating: ★ ★

Laboured day

Labor Day, a cross between a coming-of-age story and a romantic drama, has no ambitions other than to be a soapy melodrama. Kate Winslet stars as Adele, a single mom who has sunk into a deep depression after being abandoned by her husband several years earlier. She’s looked after by her 11-year-old son, Henry, a wise-beyond-his-years lad who brings her coffee in bed and helps with the shopping and banking. The plot starts humming when Adele and Henry are kidnapped by an escaped prisoner named Frank (Josh Brolin), a scary-looking dude who wants to hide in their house overnight.

Despite having murdered his wife, Frank proves to be the kind of remarkably decent guy who pitches in with house repairs and car maintenance – without even being asked. Even a depressed woman can’t help but feel a few stirrings with such hunky husband material suddenly within reach. Then comes the sure-to-be-spoofed scene where, with their slippery hands sliding sensually over and under each other, Frank tenderly teaches Adele how to make a peach pie. Boy but things are getting HOT in the kitchen! Of course, with roadblocks all over town and a manhunt underway, you know that this is one true love the course of which will not run smooth.

Told from the son’s point of view, and narrated by the adult Henry (voiced by Tobey Maguire), Labor is superficial, heavy-handed in its symbolism, and prone to second-rate psychologizing. And the film’s resolution simply defies belief. It’s impossible to imagine that anyone watching this sappy exercise in Harlequin Romance-style wish fulfillment could guess it was directed by Jason Reitman, the cinema hipster whose previously impeccable oeuvre ranged from Juno to Up in the Air.

Rating: ★ ★

(Labor Day continues at the Odeon & Westshore; That Awkward Moment continues at SilverCity & the Westshore)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Alan Tudyk stars as Alien Harry Vanderspeigel in the new series Resident Alien (Photo by: James Dittinger/SYFY)
Resident Alien brings Vancouver Island to the small screen with January premiere

Quirky series shot in Ladysmith will air every Wednesday on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

Joy Sharpe holds a picture of her late husband Ray while posing for a photograph with the Sybil Andrews painting ‘hauling’ before donating it to the Campbell River Hospice Society. (Submitted photo)
$6 painting turned into $10,000 charity windfall

A 1952 original Sybil Andrews painting donation fetches Campbell River Hospice Society a nice return

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Western Edge Theatre artistic director Brian March and local theatre artists Brianna Hamilton and Daniel Puglas (from left) make up Western Edge’s new team of “artistic associates.” (News Bulletin file photos/Courtney Harder)
Nanaimo theatre company adds younger, diverse voices to artistic team

Western Edge hopes new ‘artistic associates’ will help form new ideas, reach new audiences

Sara Lopez Assu says she’s relatively happy with how the Campbell River Art Gallery team managed to weather the storm that was 2020. File Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror
Campbell River Art Gallery director reflects on ‘maybe our hardest year ever’

‘It would be easy to look back and be disappointed … but that’s not going to get us anywhere’

Jean Crowder, former MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan, is the CVPAG honourary chair. (Submitted)
Art gallery group becomes registered charity in step towards realizing Duncan dream

Becoming a registered charity enables the CVPAG to greatly expand its potential donor base

From left to right; Jessica Kelly; Allaina Moore; Ben Rosnau; and Isaiah McAleese. Members of the ECHO Players Youth Group after they performed ‘Words, Words, Words’ by David Ives, in May 2019. (submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach youth theatre group looks at more livestream performances in 2021

Members stay active during pandemic with playwriting competitions and online play readings

Most Read