Director: Jake Kasdan
Cast: Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe
Plot: Jay (Segel) and Annie (Diaz) decide to make a sex tape to rekindle their dying marriage, which results in disaster when the tape synchs to every iPad Jay has given to his friends and colleagues.
I wonder how many people came to the cinema because they thought Sex Tape was actually a good premise or because they wanted to see how much of Cameron Diaz’s naked body they could see.
The first act of Sex Tape is actually pretty awful. It is one of those moments when you realise that you have sat down in a cinema where you are going to be trapped with a painfully bad movie for the next two hours. Kasdan tries to come across as edgy as possible with his anything-goes script, which talks about sex and porn openly. However, rather than being a raunchy, fun comedy, it kind of comes across as too try-hard. While the story does try to make the sex tape plotline a relevant step in the character arcs of Jay and Annie, it feels too forced. It doesn’t help that the sex tape is the only selling point the film has been using in advertising its movie. When it actually comes around to it, it is a pretty in-your-face form of comedy and it doesn’t work as well as it wants to. Any other movie would have raced through this awkward stumbling block in the film, but Sex Tape tries to enjoy the moment. The truth is these jokes have been done so many times before. The ‘struggling to get the woman’s shoes off’ is a reworking of the ‘can’t undo bra’ gag. The joke about marriage sex getting stale was done a lot better with Bad Neighbours. Sex Tape accidentally flaunts the repetition of these forms of comedies, which doesn’t help the experience. The only plus point it does have is that you almost see everything Cameron Diaz has got under her clothes.
Diaz and Segel do try. They really do. I love them as actors and when it comes to comedy, they are always worth checking out. They are a safe bet when it comes to laughs, but without being too pigeon-holed by their own personalities, like we could argue Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill are. Their chemistry just about saves this film. In fact, I have to applaud most of the cast, including the two nosy neighbours, Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper, who steal some great laughs. However, as good as the acting is, they really need some more jokes to hit home with. Every now and again, Segel will come out with the perfect line in that Jason Segel-esque voice. Diaz will throw enough energy into a scene to make it enjoyable. But there are just too many moments when they are floating in between decent gags. Sex Tape seems to enjoy getting them to say stuff that you could never imagine Diaz or Segel saying (done much better with Bad Teacher). The word ‘fucking’ becomes a buzz word and they debate porn as casually as they can. It doesn’t come across as fun; it comes across as embarrassing, like over-hearing your parents or that couple you are friends with talking about sex. There is no witty breaking down of pornography like we got with Don Jon.
When the movie hits its midway point, it does feel a bit stronger. We have moved on from the sex stuff and have entered the realm of a good old adventure comedy. There are iPads with the sex tape on it and the two leads have to get them back. You can forget the MacGuffin is a porno (which the movie keeps trying to remind you), and settle into a chase movie. The one set-piece that got me into the hysterics I wanted to spend the entire two hours in was the moment where Segel, sneaking around a house for an iPad, runs into an overzealous German Shepherd guard dog. Some might say that this joke is just as stretched as the sex tape scene, but when we are aware of the comedy that we have to resort to when this scene ends, we are happy to enjoy the moment. Segel earns every joke and the dog’s one track mind becomes the star of the show. I have to give the writers credit for that one moment. The resolution is a little weak, a little unsure where to go now that all of the sex tape filming has ended, but it is amusing enough to not be a total failure.
Amusing is a good word for Sex Tape. It earns chuckles, but not laughs. I am sure that this film will earn quite a few sniggers. You recognise the funny moments, like the cameo they brought it to play the Youporn mogul. The ‘Cloud’ and ‘Siri’ jokes receive smiles. You appreciate that certain jokes aren’t overplayed. Rob Lowe is great as the ‘outside-the-box’ employer, but he isn’t over-used, given one incredible scene to show off and then he understandably steps back, when the movie no longer needs him. That restraint isn’t seen enough in comedies. But still, there aren’t enough laughs. There are a few heart-warming moments nearer the end, but they feel obligatory and expected. I imagine this will be floating around on Netflix soon and it might feel a lot more appreciated, when you haven’t trekked to the cinema for it, but for the moment, Sex Tape massively underachieves.
Final Verdict: Sex Tape isn’t as funny as you want it to be, with too few major laughs to keep the film’s spark. At times, it becomes plain awkward.