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Friday movie roundup: The long and the short of it

First Published      Last Updated Jan 31 2014 12:29 pm

It's not a great weekend for new movies, but an excellent opportunity for Oscar completists.

"That Awkward Moment" is every romantic-comedy trope tied up into a single movie, as told from the dude's perspective. Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan star as three former college buddies who hit the New York club scene looking for hookups but not necessarily relationships. This being a romantic comedy, though, relationships do happen — and only the charm of Teller and Jordan (the breakout stars of this year's and last year's Sundance Film Festivals) makes the telling worthwhile. Special commendation, too, for newcomer Mackenzie Davis, who plays a sweetly sexy wingwoman for Teller's character.

"Labor Day" is labored, indeed, a sweaty airport-read romance with literary pretentions (based, as it is, on a Joyce Maynard novel). Kate Winslet plays Adele, an emotionally shut-in single mom whose life is altered when an escaped convict, Frank (Josh Brolin), enters her life and that of her 13-year-old son Henry (Gattlin Griffith). Director Jason Reitman, who's so good with light fare ("Up in the Air," "Juno," "Young Adult"), wallows in the ridiculousness of this romantic drama, squandering a strong cast.

The best new show in town this weekend is at the Tower Theatre: The annual compilations of the Oscar nominees in the Live-Action Short and Animated Short categories. The five live-action shorts are particularly strong, with three solid dramas and two witty comedies. The animated show is a bit more uneven, though it does include Disney's fourth-wall-breaking "Get a Horse!" (which you saw if you went to "Frozen") and the dreamy Japanese strangeness "Possessions." (Next week, the Tower will screen the five nominees in the Documentary Short category.)