Romantic comedies have long featured women in lead roles and revolved around the lives of single young women, made for single young women. But Are We Officially Dating?, also named That Awkward Moment in the US, switches up the conventions of the genre by having the romantic comedy told from men’s point of view. Starring Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan as three 20-somethings in New York City enjoying life while trying to navigate through professional, social and love lives.
Jason (Efron) and Daniel (Teller) are carefree single men who decide to avoid commitment of all costs and stay single when they find out their best friend Mikey (Jordan) is getting a divorce. But their plans are derailed when the boys unexpectedly fall in love and struggle to keep their promise to each other. The results are funny and touching, while also truthfully exploring the vulnerability and embarrassment of steering modern day relationships.
The twist on the conventional romantic comedy is particularly original here in Are We Officially Dating?. Unfortunately director Tom Gormican’s script (from Movie 43) isn’t particularly funny or original, and many of the jokes fall flat or are already featured in the trailer. The pacing is detrimental to the film and tries to squash too many stories without enough depth in a short amount of time, ala He’s Just Not That Into You. By not giving enough time to build the characters of Jason, Daniel or Mikey, the film jumps from one significant event to another without exploring the building of their relationships.
Luckily there are moments of brilliance in the film and concepts that are insightful. Mikey’s revelation that despite being the “perfect man” and ticking all the boxes of education, work and personality, love isn’t earned, has not been explored in a romantic comedy before. Likewise the difficulty of maintaining friendships while in relationships and the reality of a crumbling marriage are not the type of ideas and themes seen in typical romantic comedies. There are also funny moments that will be remembered from the otherwise forgettable film. The “dress up party” held by Ellie (Imogen Poots) and the thanksgiving held by Chelsea (Mackenzive Davis) and her family are examples of the rare laugh out loud moments in the film.
The male roles are subtly different yet its hard to imagine these men would be friends in the first place. The movie belongs to B. Jordan, who has had a string of hits from Chronicle to Fruitvale Station, with this romantic comedy being his first. Efron and Teller are also good while the character of Jason alienates the audience through his actions. The female roles in the film are incredibly archetypal and lead to the downfall of the films romanticism. Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis and Jessica Lucas are underdeveloped and underused, and unfortunately their characters Ellie, Chelsea and Vera, respectively, are bland and predictable.
Unfortunately Are We Officially Dating? fails to explore the question the film is based on and isn’t a movie you would revisit. It’s a guide for “being a single man in New York City in 2014” but not a hilarious or lovely romantic comedy you would expect. It’s an unlucky situation for the young actors, and instead of making you laugh at the connotations of “so…” and their place in any relationship, Are We Officially Dating? will make you walk out of the movie saying “so…” in a discontent and unimpressed way.
Originally published on CelebrityOz, January 23, 2014.
See the trailer for Are We Officially Dating below: