My first thought was that all three actors here were miscast. I felt
that Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller were all too young
for their roles. I was particularly struck with this criticism when I
saw Jordan who plays Mikey first enter the movie wearing hospital
scrubs. Later, Mikey says he's an emergency room doctor. Jordan started
out as a child actor. His previous film Fruitvale Station (2013)
had him playing a character barely out of high school. He's still very
youthful-looking and youthful-acting. To believe him as a guy who went
to college, then med school and now is an ER doctor seemed totally
unrealistic to me, especially since it looks as if he spends more time
working on his abs than reading medical books.
When Efron who plays Jason and Teller who plays Daniel walk into a Manhattan firm and they're graphic designers pitching covers for books, I thought it seemed somewhat believable, but somehow still a stretch. Yet, writer-director Tom Gormican doesn't give much of a back story for Jason and Daniel, so who knows what kind of privilege or happenstance led them to where they are?
From the very beginning, I didn't buy these characters. Given that Mikey is married to a beautiful girl named Vera, played by Jessica Lucas, further led to my disbelief of these characters. Superficially, Jordan just seems too young to be playing a married guy. I get that there are a lot of young people who rush into marriage but it just didn't seem reasonable here. This bias, as I came to see, is fine because his being "too young" is the point of his central relationship problem.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure how young Gormican is. While I appreciated the reference to actor Morris Chestnut from Boyz N The Hood (1991), it's too old a callback for characters under the age of 30. It just becomes a bad joke, which roughly gets repeated and falls flat each time, and sadly Jordan has to deliver it. It's sad because Jordan's character is the most likeable out of the trio, as in Chronicle (2012), but Gormican gives him the worst lines and the least of the clever ones.
The majority of the comedy goes to Efron and especially Teller, and a lot of the humor is centered on penis jokes. Each guy has his own physical gag regarding his penis, and one or two of these gags would have been enough, but having all three penis physical gags was a bit too much. Jordan has a masturbation-gone-wrong gag. Teller has a Viagra-gone-wrong gag and Efron has a dildo-gone-wrong gag.
The movie reminded me of an extended episode of HBO's Entourage where at first it's all about sex and guys trying to get as much of it from as many different women as possible, but it quickly morphs into a romantic comedy and all the typical trappings.
The premise, however, was one that kept me intrigued. The three guys lie to each other mainly about the fact that they are more for monogamy than for being players. This is nothing new. Efron's character makes a corny joke, which unknowingly reinforces the fact that his character is very much derivative of Tom Cruise in both Cocktail (1988) and Jerry Maguire (1996) as well as other Cruise romantic films.
The ending is very much an ode to Jerry Maguire. It's ridiculous
and a total "movie moment," meaning it's completely manufactured and
contrived. I get why Gormican has it, to play up Efron's charm, but I
would rather the filmmaker have spent more time with Jordan's character
and his off-and-on relationship with Vera, and I'm not just saying that
because it's now Black History Month.
I get that this is Efron's movie. In that regard, we do get to spend more time with his love interest, Ellie, played by Imogen Poots who is really delightful. She was first seen in masse in the film 28 Weeks Later (2007). The British actress has been good in everything she's done since. She had a small role in another Zac Efron movie Me and Orson Welles (2008). The then 20-year-old actress got to be a love interest for Michael Douglas in Solitary Man (2009). She got to be a vampire in Fright Night (2011) and Poots had an affair with another older man in the movie A Late Quartet (2012). All of which she was fantastic, so if anything, see this film for Imogen Poots.
Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual content and language throughout.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 34 mins.