An R rated comedy in the summer with two endearing leads is usually a recipe for success. Relating it to the technology of today is a good way to make it relatable on a ground level. Sex Tape sees itself as a wild and crazy sex romp but often falls flat, never taking advantage of the R rated concept, its leads or supporting characters. What it ends up with is a rather boring tale with only snippets of what it could have been if it was able to get out of the gates.
The story starts off as Annie as a professional blogger (Cameron Diaz), types in her blog wondering where the spark in her marriage to Jay (Jason Segel), went after 10 years and two kids. So they decide to engage in a three hour sex marathon while using The Joy of Sex as a template, taped by their iPad. But Jay soon forgets to erase it as it synchs to iPads he gave out as gifts to friends and family. They soon go on a mission to find and destroy the iPad's before it’s too late. It’s an interesting enough concept, using the newest technologies as a backdrop for a crude rom-com in the 21st century. But it never went all out like it wanted and needed too, never allowing itself to immerse in the ridiculousness that often permeates in movies like this. It held back too much, just when it was getting funny. Then it stops and the process starts all over again. The inconsistency made it hard to be engaged as laughs were too far and in between. The pairing of Diaz and Segel made for some great chemistry but not enough to hold the film together. But their relationship felt like it was on autopilot too much. You waited for something else to happen but it never came.
I like Cameron Diaz as she plays a comedic character very well. I loved her performance in Bad Teacher for its brashness and unapologetic dark humor. She went all out in that role and played off well from the material. Jason Segel is always funny as a schlubby straight man like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but he feels uninspired here although he does appear to give it his all in Sex Tape. Best friends to Annie and Jay are married couple Robby (Rob Cordry) and Tess (Ellie Kemper). They had some funny parts like you would expect from supporting characters with some off the wall tendencies. The laughs they provided made it easier to sit through overall, as the standard crazy friends. But they can only do so much with the material given so they fell flat too. Hank (Rob Lowe) was the only surprise provided as the head of a corporation that wants to buy Annie’s blog. It was a genuinely hilarious scene as he imbibes in drugs while listening to thrash metal around paintings of him depicted as animated classics. So much of it made no sense given that the rest of the movie wasn’t as funny as this. It’s what it should have been, random acts of bizarre hilarity. But it’s over and you wish you could go back.
I really like the director Jake Kasdan's previous work. I loved the incredibly underrated Orange County, Walk Hard, the criminally unseen The TV Set and was surprised at how funny Bad Teacher is. That his latest effort is such a misfire is a major disappointment since he can do so much better. He has shown that he can provide stellar comedic performances and has a great knack for absurdity, chaos, spoofs and satire. It’s rather surprising how tame Sex Tape is compared to his other films, like oil and water. His work often goes underrated so I hope he gets another vehicle to show how funny and original he can be. Knowing who the screenplay was written by is even more depressing. Jason Segel not only starred in Sex Tape but also wrote it alongside Nicholas Stoller and Kate Angelo. Jason is a very talented writer with past hits like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets and The Five-Year Engagement. But everything here felt so very tepid as the jokes and gags had no consistency. It needed more as the jokes provided weren’t enough to counterbalance and complement the crude premise. Strange that he has a proven track record as a writer alongside Nicolas Stoller in previous films which I all found to be hilarious.
There was just enough nakedness shown without revealing any privates. Cameron Diaz still looks great after all these years. The actual sex tape was funnier than the whole movie with Diaz and Segel going all out with physical and sexual humor. It was shown in the end in a Hangover style reveal so it at least left me laughing as it ended. Ironically it’s not the most bizarre sex scene Camron Diaz has done as The Counselor is proof of that. The beginning also had a funny sequence as Annie traces back how she and Jay met in her blog and how much sex they had. Throughout the whole movie, there was only three sequences that were notable and funny; the beginning, middle and end. The rest was really a waste. Not even an uncredited cameo from a comedic juggernaut could have helped this meandering story. Annie and Jay break into an online porn sites server in an attempt to stop it from reaching the web when they are approached by the owner. He endlessly rattles off various porn sites at them in an attempt to figure out who their working for. It goes on for much too long, ruining the joke.
Other elements didn’t make much sense like when they got blackmailed. It was rather illogical how it would even work given who it was. What also bothered me is how easily the issue could have been resolved within 30-40 minutes if anyone bothered to look anything up. Ignorance to technology and our blinded devotion to it can be something that could be really intriguing, but this was the wrong way to present it here. It just felt too dumb where Annie and Jay are doing a tirelessly manual solution to a digital problem. The separate elements didn’t mesh well at all with the more inane parts of the movie. The concept of the straight married couple doing crazy things, dwelling deeper into acts of depravity was already done this year extremely well with Neighbors. That worked because the idea of intrusive neighbors invading a regular neighborhood is a well honored story line. Not to mention that film goes all out with its absurdity, feeling like an R rated raunchy comedy with genuine heart.
Sex Tape is never as smart, funny or raunchy as it thinks it is. And there is nothing worse than that for any movie. It flounders where it should have flourished, only showing snippets of funny moments. It would be accurate to call it a major tease given the pedigree of the people working in front of and behind the camera. It’s not the worst movie out there but it is far from the best so I guess it has that working out for it. It will more or less be forgotten until it hits cable late at night, where nothing else is on. Soon enough it will be blanked from the audiences memories, much like the sex tape itself. Two and a half sex marathons out of five.