Thursday, July 24, 2014

Movie Review: Sex Tape

Sex Tape
Directed by: Jake Kasdan.
Written by: Kate Angelo and Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller.
Starring: Cameron Diaz (Annie), Jason Segel (Jay), Rob Corddry (Robby), Ellie Kemper (Tess), Rob Lowe  (Hank), Nat Faxon (Max), Nancy Lenehan (Linda), Giselle Eisenberg  (Nell), Harrison Holzer (Howard), Sebastian Hedges Thomas (Clive).

The premise of sex tape – that a long married couple with two kids film themselves having sex, and then have to get copies of the video back from all their friends and family – promises a raunchy, offensive sex comedy. This is doubly true when you consider that the two stars and the director made Bad Teacher together – which wasn’t a great movie, but certainly went for broke in terms of potentially offensive, sexual humor. The most shocking thing then about Sex Tape is how utterly it is. The film goes through the motions of being daring and sexual, but is basically just a rather lame slapstick comedy where the talented stars are stuck with a bunch of lame gags that generate very little in the way of laughs. What makes matters worse is there are a few moments – mostly small, quiet ones, that hint at the comedy this could have been had it went for it.

The film stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as Annie and Jay – and like every other married couple with kids in the comedies of this sort, they have really cool jobs - she’s a blogger, about to sell her blog for big money, he works for a record label, or radio station, or something – it’s music related anyway. As the movie opens, the movie flashes back to college (I think) when Annie and Jay first meet and screw like rabbits – any time and any place – until she gets pregnant, and they get married. And then, of course, their sex lives grow dull and stagnant. So one night to get the groove back, they film themselves having sex, Instead of erasing the tape, Jay accidentally syncs it the cloud – and it goes to all the iPads they have given away (which is apparently a hell of a lot – why the hell don’t I know anyone who is giving away iPads. Because apparently neither of them have any idea how technology works, they believe they have to physically get back their iPads. That leads the pair to do some humiliating things – and of course learn some lessons, grow together, etc.

Diaz and Segel are fine comedic actors – and they give the movie their best shot, but the film never really gels. Most of the movie moves at such a rapid pace that the pair never have a chance to create characters that are realistic and natural together. The rapid pace could have worked except for one major problem – nothing much happens, it just happens really fast. The film moves from one unfunny set piece to another and goes nowhere.

The best moments are mainly throwaway, isolated incidents – I loved all the paintings that adorn Rob Lowe’s walls for example. Lowe, as the head of the company who wants to buy Annie’s blog, is actually probably the best one in the movie – even if he is essentially riffing on his Parks & Recreation persona. It can still be funny though.

But most of Sex Tape just never really works – is never really funny. I think a funny movie could be made out of the same basic material of Sex Tape, but it would require the movie to take itself a little more seriously. Like most Hollywood movies, it has a rather infantile view of sex – sex as imagined by teenagers who have never really had sex. If it took itself a little more seriously and given the comedy more of an edge – any edge really – perhaps it could have been funny. Diaz, Segel and director Jake Kasdan are capable of doing that. With Sex Tape, they simply didn’t deliver.

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