Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Jake Kasdan
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, Sebastian Hedges Thomas, Jack Black, Nat Faxon.
Another raunchy sub-Judd Apatow comedy, this sex tape is embarrassing for all the wrong reasons! In a year that has given us some great adult oriented comedies like Bad Neighbours, A Million Ways To Die In The West, etc, Sex Tape is substandard fare.
The link between pornography and technology is the impetus for this comedy about a married couple who make a sex tape one night and then panic when they discover it has been sent to the “cloud”, whatever that is, and is linked to a number of laptops given out to friends.
Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel plays Annie and Jay a couple who enjoyed an active sex life when they first met, as a montage sequence shows. But then they got married, and the demands of jobs, kids and everything else got in the way, and their once active and vigorous sex lives virtually dried up. Annie writes a blog about the joys of motherhood, while Jay works at a local radio station. One night when they found themselves home alone they decided to reenact the classic 70s sex manual The Joy Of Sex and film their marathon session of bedroom gymnastics. Then instead of erasing the tape as Annie demanded, Jay accidentally uploaded it to his I-pad that is synced to a number of other I-pads through “the cloud.” Jay has gifted these I-pads to friends and family.
Jay receives an anonymous text thanking him for the sex video and threatens to blackmail him. Thus begins a frantic race through the night to try and retrieve the I-pads before their friends can view the tape. This involves some slapstick comedy, especially as Jay comes face to face with an attack dog in one house, and even involves them breaking into the offices of a porn hosting website server.
Sex Tape has been written by Segel and his cowriter Nicholas Stoller, who wrote Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him To The Greek and, for a contrast, the family friendly reboot of The Muppet Movie. The film has been directed by Jake Kasdan (son of Lawrence Kasdan), whose films include the smart Orange County, and far superior comedies like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Bad Teacher, etc, and he brings some energy to the lacklustre material. But this is very much a hit and miss comedy in which there are a few good moments and the pacing is uneven. There are lots of moments that misfire and fall flat, and there are lots of gaps in the film’s flawed internal logic. And even at a relatively brief 97 minutes, it still seems overlong.
There is the basis of a good idea in there somewhere, but here it has been stretched to breaking point and driven into the ground. The 2000 comedy Road Trip was driven by a similar premise – Breckin Meyer filmed a sex act which was then accidentally mailed to his girlfriend, thus starting a frantic cross country road trip to try and intercept the package before she could view it. That film was consistently funny, and made the most of its raucous humour with some clever dialogue, sight gags and believable characters. Also here we get to see some of the sex tape, which was unnecessary because the details should have been left to our imagination. It would have been better to just watch the reactions of Annie and Jay as they watched their amateur porn sextravaganza on laptop.
Diaz and Segel appeared together in Bad Teacher, and they have a good chemistry together. There’s Something About Mary was a high point for Diaz’s comedic career, and shows she was willing to take the mickey out of herself as a ditzy blonde, but Sex Tape falls far short of the lofty standards of that comedy classic. Nonetheless, Diaz throws herself into some very energetic comedic scenes and pratfalls, and she is not afraid to show off her body for much of the film. Segel went full frontal in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which was quite a shocking scene at the time but also revealed his vulnerability, but here he seems more coy and we only see him nude from the rear. He also has plenty of physically punishing comedy here. Young Sebastian Hedges Thomas is a stand out as their precocious young son Clive, who almost has an adult sensibility about him, and he is one of the best things in the film.
There is a hint of irony of the casting of Rob Lowe in an extended cameo as Annie’s prospective employer, because he is one celebrity who found his career temporarily derailed by his very own sex tape back in the 80s. The film also stars Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper as the couple’s friends, but they have a fairly bland presence. And there is an appearance from an uncredited Jack Black who has a disappointingly bland presence and is not that funny.