Director Jake Kasdan, whose career started so promisingly with Zero Effect and Freaks and Geeks, continues his ‘studio comedies of declining quality’ output with Sex Tape, which sees him re-uniting with the stars of Bad Teacher (Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel).
Diaz and Segal play a married couple in suburban LA who have been together for a long time. Their history is shown in a narrated opening montage that dates back to their college years (where they apparently looked exactly the same as they do now) that basically takes several minutes to tell us; these two used to get it on a lot. Now they’re both kept busy by their jobs and two young children and have found their love life has dried up. Taking advantage of a night without the kids, they try to spice things up and eventually decide to film themselves going through every position in The Joy of Sex.
I guess it could make for a totally different kind of comedy if they then decided to share the video themselves, but naturally Sex Tape has to then find some convoluted way in which the private footage gets out of their hands and it’s almost unbelievably awful.
Segal’s actual job is never explained, is it something to do with music? We see him at a radio station at one point but anyway, he apparently gets through a lot of iPads. iPad! Get used to hearing it as you’re going to many more times in this movie. Segal states that he buys them two at a time, uses them for a short while, then just gives them away to everybody he knows. It’s got to the point now where his son, his in-laws, his friends and even his mailman all have their own hand-me-down iPad.
Despite being asked to, he forgets to delete the video and receives a mysterious text the following day, leading him to discover that it’s been uploaded onto “the cloud” and everyone who he gave an iPad to now has a copy (does it just do this automatically?). He doesn’t wipe them before giving them away you see as his playlists are apparently so badass that everyone wants to hear them too, so all his files are synced. For someone so enamoured with this particular piece of technology, he’s also shockingly clueless as to how to use one.
You’re inviting a certain kind of expectation when you call a movie ‘Sex Tape’, and while the film does involve the making of some amateur porn, it’s not a sexy film. Sex here is viewed as purely for comedic purposes. Sex Tape starts out trying to be a raunchy rom-com then abandons its reconnecting couple set-up after act 1 to become a race around town to gather up all the incriminating iPads, a lot of which serves as an excuse to just have characters mention the name as often as possible. Segal even makes comments on the durability and camera quality. I thought the product placement in Transformers 4 was bad, but at least it didn’t have the whole plot entirely revolve around one specific brand.
The madcap chase leads to a couple of farcical situations, most of which fail to gain any laughs. The film’s other ridiculous angle is that Diaz’s “mom blog” that she writes full time is apparently so popular that a large toy company wants to buy it off her for large amounts of money (is this even remotely plausible?). She’s had a positive meeting with the company’s uptight CEO (Rob Lowe) but the deal hasn’t been confirmed yet. Of course, she’s already given him one of these magical iPads her husband has coming out the ears so she must concoct an excuse to show up at his house late at night. Lowe’s character is actually the only place in which the film shows any invention, as he reveals to her his preferred methods of relaxation, but a lot of the comedy still misses the mark here.
Another predictable plot development later rears its ugly head and signposts the film’s conclusion, which involves another unremarkable celebrity cameo and was apparently written with no knowledge as to how the internet works in this day and age. Though it deserves to be immediately forgotten, I wonder how dated this film will look in a decade or so’s time. In fact, an argument could be made that nowadays having a sex tape leak might have a positive effect on their lives.
This may stem from the fact that I’ve never liked dogs but I will admit to letting off a chuckle during one gag that’s something out of a more slapstick movie. Segal has to fend off a particularly aggressive dog in one scene and does so by knocking it out with a hardback book as it jumps on him. As far as laughs go, that’s the best Sex Tape has to offer.